Emergency cell phone numbers, area code scams, chain letters, phishing, and more: Internet ScamBusters #103
Today's issue is our second Q&A. We have info for you on emergency cell phone numbers, other area codes similar to the 809 area code, chain letters, phishing, and more.
Before we get started today, we wanted to let you know about a brand new blog that features Christmas gift advice from one of our associates.
It is called 'Christmas Gifts Advice', and features gift ideas, tips, and advice for an exceptional holiday season - from Grace Galloway (aka 'The Gift Guru'). Highly recommended.
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OK, let's get going...
Internet ScamBusters Q&A
Question: I know you can't answer individually, but can you print in your urban legends section whether dialing *677 on your cell phone puts you in touch with a police dispatcher? And if so, does that work anywhere or just in a specific area?
I had an email about this piece of info that just could save your life and don't want to pass it on if it is not true.
Answer: The most popular versions of this urban legend tell you to dial *77 or #77.
Different states have different highway emergency numbers. For example, *77 works in Maine, #77 in Maryland, and *47 in North Carolina. We understand that *677 will work calling the Ontario Provincial Police (from Ontario only), but we couldn't confirm this since we're not in Ontario.
Note: Dozens of subscribers from Ontario have emailed us confirming this information.
For a list of the highway emergency numbers in every state, visit:
For an international list of emergency numbers (not cell phone numbers), visit:
Question: Are there other codes similar to 809 where you can get scammed?
Answer: Yes, there are lots of them. You can find these additional area codes similar to 809 here.
Question: You guys are doing a great job with ScamBusters, I enjoy every issue. Whenever I get what I think is a chain letter, I check it out at breakthechain.org. Do you know of this site? Keep up the good work.
Answer: Yes, it's a good site. We wrote about chain letters two years ago in Issue #52 -- it's the first item.
Question: What is the meaning of "phishing"? I can't find it in the dictionary. Keep up the good work.
Answer: Phishing scams are done by scammers who send emails that look like they come from well-known companies and banks (for example, CitiBank, BestBuy, PayPal, AOL, etc.) in order to get the victim to surrender private information.
These scams are called phishing scams because scammers go fishing for your private information (fyi: techies like to replace the letter 'f' with 'ph').
The scammer's goal is to steal your credit card or bank info -- or worse, your identity.
The email directs the victim to a website where the victim is asked to enter personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers that the legitimate organization supposedly already has.
The website, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user's information.
There are many reasons the scammers give you to go to a fraudulent webpage to 'correct' the mistake, or validate or update your info. For example, they may tell you that they found a charge that may be fraudulent, or that you need to update your account information as part of a new security initiative.
These scams have gotten VERY sophisticated.
Advice: Never click on the links in these emails. They look real, but they go to the scammer's website. If you think there is any possibility the email is legitimate, type in the home page of the legitimate website instead.
For more on phishing scams, click here.
Question: Why don't you reference Snopes.com? It's a great source of info on specific hoaxes. I hope it is not a turf war because both of your sites are very valuable.
Answer: Snopes.com is a great site. They are referenced on many pages of our site. They also link to us. ScamBusters is a public service, and we appreciate everyone who has created quality sites to reduce fraud, urban legend spam, viruses, spyware, and hoaxes.
Question: Does the Nigerian Scam ever come from Great Britain? Someone is making me an offer that sounds just like it.
Answer: It comes from just about every country. Nigeria was just first -- and it's still the most common.
That's all for today. Wishing you a scam-free week.