800 toll free numbers serve a wide range of genuine services, from community outreach, personal support, technical support, and a wide array of customer-related needs. Unfortunately, the services that are contests and scams have given 800 toll free services a bad name. Beyond telemarketing, it sometimes seems as if the “Do Not Call list” doesn’t do enough. Similar to how e-mail scams are referred to as “phishing”, these tricks prey on your sympathies and desires promising to deliver the minute you give them those credit card digits.
Fraud comes in various forms. Of course we’ve received that email about the son of an African Prince stuck in some legal situation in another country or when a screen name posing as a female would offer some “private web camera” kind of business. These kinds of cases have existed long before the inception of the Internet and even before the beginning of 800 toll free services. This dates back to before the 1900’s, known as the snake oil industry, which has plagued our pockets for generations.
In addition, these types of calls aren’t even toll free. In fact, they are rerouted from the 800 number you dial making you subject to long distance charges. However, these acts are illegal according to the 900 number rule. A company can legally refer you to a 900 number service, but not redirect you. If this situation occurs, have a look at your phone bill and dispute the charge.
Whether through a dot com domain or an 800 toll free phone service, it’s important to protect yourself against these telecommunication predators. To better understand the nature of toll free number scams, you can read up on the FCC’s guide here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/telemarketing/tel14.shtm. The Federal Communications Commission has a toll free number available 1-888-CALL-FCC to help prevent fraudulence, deception, and unfair business practices in the marketplace. If you’ve been scammed or wronged, it’s best to file a complaint.