Apr 132005
Authors: Jake Blumberg

Phone Codes to Avoid Scams

*57- Call Trace in CSU Phone System

*67-Block Phone Number Appearance on Caller ID

*66/ *77-Anonymous Call Rejection

*69- Last Call return

0- Dials operator for assistance

Phones across the nation may be "ringing trouble" for those who answer because of various types of phone frauds, which have been recently running rampant in Fort Collins.

On campus, CSU has a phone system of over 11,000 phone lines, including business lines and those in the residence halls. Jim Hebbeln, a CSU telecommunications specialist said the best advice to avoid phone scams is to be critical of what one is told by the caller.

"You need to protect yourself," Hebbeln said. "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. We can't block the world from calling into CSU. We have no way to block any particular caller from the system, so each individual has to just be careful."

If an individual is leery of receiving calls from unknown sources or solicitors, there are steps to limit exposure Hebbeln said.

" If you make a toll-free call, that company now has the right to call you back, because they are paying for your call," Hebbeln said. " Even if you block your number when you call them, they can get your number to call back; the toll-free calls are not private."

Individuals who feel a caller victimized them can trace their calls in the CSU phone system, Hebbeln said.

"For people in the CSU system who are getting obscene, threatening or illegal calls, we can try to trace the calls," Hebbeln said. "If someone needs a call traced, all they need to do is dial *57."

There are a variety of scams that can allow criminals access to consumers' phone lines, according to AT&T Corp.'s Web site, www.att.com/consumertips. This access can lead to charges on customers' bills for which they are not responsible.

One type of scam described on AT&T's Web site involves an automated message requesting that the customer enter a two-digit code, followed by the pound (#) or star (*) key and then an 800 number. However, as stated on the Web site: "When you dial the number, you are not connected to anyone. What this procedure does is program your telephone to forward your calls to a long-distance operator. Potential con-artists can then call your number, be forwarded to the long-distance operator and place calls that are billed to your home telephone number."

This current scam is similar to an older scam that today has become an "urban legend," said Kerry Hibbs, an AT&T Corporation spokesperson. The scam involved a caller masquerading as a phone company employee who would ask for the customer to enter " 9-0-#" to perform a phone line maintenance operation. Once the customer entered the code, the caller would be given access to their phone line from a separate location.

"The (9-0-#) scam rarely affected residential customers because of the phone line necessary for it to work," Hibbs said. " It required an older system that used to be used for businesses."

Eric Lintz, a CSUPD detective, said that if an individual feels that they have been victimized by any type of scam, CSUPD officers will do their best to investigate the incident.

"If someone feels like they have been victimized, they can report the incident and we will handle it like a fraud investigation," Lintz said. "Normally nothing has happened until the information is used against them. Until the information is used, there is really nothing we can do, because there is no way for the police to get the information back once it has been given out."

Lintz said that individuals are their best self-defense against phone scams and fraud, because they are the only people who can control their own personal information.

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