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Avoid Phone Scams By Recognizing These Area Codes

Consumer Alert

Consumer Alert – August 10, 2016
Article from The Indiana Attorney General

Tips To Help You Avoid Phone Scams

(NOTE: The next quarterly deadline to register cellular and landline residential phone numbers on the Do Not Call list is by midnight on Tuesday, Aug.16.)

“In an ongoing effort to protect Hoosiers from phone scams, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller urges people to recognize and avoid certain area codes and phone numbers that are commonly used by scammers.

Zoeller also reminds Indiana residents to sign up for the state Do Not Call list by visiting or by calling 1.888.834.9969 before the next quarterly deadline on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Avoid phone scams by recognizing these recurring fraudulent phone numbers and area codes:

• Non-existent area code, like “000” and “123”
If the number looks fake, chances are the call is probably a scam. Let a call from these area codes go unanswered.

• Area code 202
If you are not expecting a call from our nation’s capital, then be wary when a Caller ID number starts with 202. The caller may be an imposter claiming to be an agent of the U.S. Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanding payment for past-due taxes. This is the most common scam reported to the AG’s Office this year. The IRS has asked consumers to report IRS imposter scams here, or by calling the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Complaint Hotline at 1.800.366.4484.

• Area code 876
Unless you have family or friends in Jamaica, be alert when you see area code 876 on your Caller ID. In the past year, Hoosiers have filed nearly 1,500 complaints about sweepstakes scam calls from this area code. The Federal Trade Commission has partnered with Jamaican law enforcement to fight telemarketing fraud. For more information about this scam, visit here.

• Unfamiliar area code or number
Many people have stopped answering calls from unknown numbers in far-flung places. If you are not expecting a call from Bismark, North Dakota or Tacoma, Washington, it is probably best to ignore it.

• Same area code and exchange as your number
If you receive a call from your own number, or a number that is only a couple of digits removed from your number, be very wary. Telemarketers are known to employ a type of spoofing known as “Caller ID mirroring,” which involves transmitting a number close to the number they are calling to get someone to pick up the phone. Once you answer, your number may go on a list of valid phone numbers sold to other telemarketers or scammers.

• Generic names, like “Card Services” or “Home Security”

The Caller ID name can also provide a clue to a potential scam or telemarketing violation. A generic sounding name like “Card Services” informs consumers the call may be a robocall or a scam.

For more tips on avoiding phone scams,