This story was first published on February 13, 2014
Circulating message that includes the letterhead of the Greater Manchester Police warns users not to ever dial the area codes 0809, 0284 and 0876 from the UK because such calls will be charged at £1500 per-minute.
International premium rate call scams do occur. However, the claims in this message are untrue. The message has no relevance to the UK whatsoever. It is a reworked version of an earlier US based “warning” message. And the US version was also highly inaccurate and misleading. Dialling the numbers listed from either the UK or the US will certainly not incur the huge charges described in the message. Passing on this hoax message will help nobody.
0809 Area Code. We actually received a call last week from the 0809 area code. The woman said ‘Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you- get back to us quickly. I have something important to tell you.’ Then she repeated a phone number beginning with 0809. We did not respond, this week, we received the following e-mail:Do Not DIAL AREA CODE 0809, 0284, AND 0876 from the UKTHIS IS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION PROVIDED TO US BY AT&T. DON’T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 0809
This one is being distributed all over the UK … This is pretty scary, especially given the way they try to get you to call.Be sure you read this and pass it on.
They get you to call by telling you that it is information about a family member who has been ill or to tell you someone has been arrested, died, or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc..
In each case, you are told to call the 0809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls.
If you call from the UK , you will apparently be charged c per-minute and you’ll get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges.
According to a message that has circulated via social media and email for several years, people in the UK should never dial the area codes 0809, 0284 and 0876, because they will be connected to a phone service that will charge them a massive £1500 for every minute they stay on the line.
The warning claims that people are being lured into calling the numbers with the scam area codes via messages left on their phones telling them that they need to call back quickly to get important information.
The message circulates in the form of an image depicting a notice that includes the logo of the Greater Manchester Police.
However, at least for the UK, the claims in the message are nonsense. Calling numbers with the specified area codes from the UK will certainly not connect users to an overseas premium phone service charged at £1500 per minute. Moreover, a prefix would need to be added to the area codes to reach an international destination. Without the prefix, the area codes may reach local UK numbers but would be charged at normal rates. Premium rate numbers in the UK begin with 09 and incur costs of “up to £3.60 and your phone company’s access charge, plus 5p to £6 per call”. Premium rate call costs in the UK would never reach the massive per minute charges specified in the supposed warning.
In fact, the message is nothing more than an utterly pointless reworking of a much earlier warning message about a US based phone scam. And, although the US version referenced a real premium rate phone scam, it contained highly misleading and inaccurate information. The US version made the ridiculous – and totally untrue – claim that callers were being charged $2425 per minute for calling back 809 area code numbers. While victims might have racked up call costs of up to $100, they were certainly never charged the exorbitant per minute fees stated in the warning message. I discuss the US version in another Hoax-Slayer article.
Thus, it seems that someone has simply taken the old US ‘warning’ and made a rather lame attempt to adapt it for the UK by altering a few details.
Unfortunately, the bogus UK version of the scam warning has been given totally undeserved credibility because it appears to come from the Greater Manchester Police. However, the message is not from police as claimed. Back when the hoax first began circulating in 2014, Greater Manchester Police issued the following statement on its Facebook Page:
We have been made aware of an email circulating using our logo. Please note this has not come from us – it is a fake and the information is incorrect.
Finally, let me reiterate that premium rate phone scams do occur, although victims will never be charged the sort of fees described in these false warnings. One such scam has tricked US residents into returning “one-ring” missed calls which connect to a premium rate service that can be charged at up to $9 per minute. Thus, users should be wary of calling back unknown numbers. It may be wise to check the origin of such numbers via an online phone directory before dialling.
Nevertheless, sharing the false information in the above message will help nobody. If the message comes your way, please do not share it with others. And please let the sender know the message is a hoax.