Area Code Scam: DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE  809 , 284  AND 876

Urban Legends and Hoax emails:

Did one of your panicky friends email you urgently to warn you: "DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE  809 , 284  AND 876".  Slow down.  That's the Area Code hoax.

While some variations of this email have been around since 1996, this version is only 2 years old. Like many hoax emails, it uses a small truth as the basis, to make the exaggerated fears believable.

There is a real scam in which consumers are tricked into dialing international phone numbers, which would result in substantial long-distance charges. That is possible because there a few regions outside the U.S., which includes the Caribbean and Canada, that can be dialed directly without the usual "011" international prefix.

  • "809" - Dominican Republic.
  • "284" - British Virgin Islands.
  • "876" - Jamaica.

And since these numbers are outside the United States, the U.S. requirement to inform callers in advance of any special rates or fees doesn't apply. However, the hoax is the gross exaggeration of the charges.

In the real scam, perpetrators typically trick victims into dialing the numbers by leaving a message that claims that a relative has been injured or arrested, an unpaid account must be settled, or a cash prize can be claimed, etc. When the victim returns the call, they are kept on the line for as long as possible to run up additional charges. The bill for such a call can be substantial (though not nearly as high as $2,400 per minute claimed in the email).

AT&T advises that consumers always check the location of unfamiliar area codes before dialing. This can be done by visiting or simply Googling the area code (e.g., area code 809) and viewing the top result.

Sample hoax email:

Subject: DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE  809 , 284  AND 876


This one is being distributed all over the US . 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  809  number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls.
If you call from the   US , you will apparently be charged
$2,425 per-minute.

Or, 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. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $24,100.00.


The  809
  area code is located in the British Virgin Islands (The Bahamas).
The charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That's because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong.

Please forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them become aware of this scam

Sandi Van Handel
AT&T Field Service Manager

Additional information on these area codes can be found from ATT at:



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And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!




For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.