The 9 + 0 + Number Scam

The 9 + 0 + number scam has been around for years and is directed at businesses, hospitals, government agencies, and other organizations that use PBXs to handle their calls, especially teleservice companies.

This type of fraud involves a thief who calls and cons an unsuspecting employee into connecting him or her to an outside line. The thief then begins placing calls, generally expensive international calls, which will be automatically charged back to the company (since the call is in fact being placed on company lines). In many instances, the caller claims to be a “telephone company” employee or technician. They state they are “working” on the line and convince your employee to help them out by “transferring, “patching,” or “connecting” him to an outside line and then hanging up. Once the perpetrator has your outside line, they begin placing long distance calls. Generally they can place one after another, racking up hundreds of dollars in long distance before a savvy employee discovers their deceit and disconnects the patch.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • A legitimate telephone company employee would never call and ask to be connected to an outside line.
  • If you receive a suspicious call, ask for their supervisor’s name and number, as well as the name of the person reporting the problem. Then hang up. If you suspect that the call could be legitimate (which it seldom will be), call the person who supposedly reported the problem.
  • If your business is targeted for this (or any other telephone scam) you should report it to your phone company immediately and your local law enforcement agency.

There are variations of this scam as well. They include:

  • Dial and patch to 9 + 0 + 0 (which connects the caller with your long distance company’s operator).
  • Dial and patch 9 +1010xxx (which connects the caller to the long distance company with that 1010xxx code).

Even if your call center staff does not need to dial a 9 for an outside line, you can still be victimized as long as your staff can patch or conference two lines together. Make sure all of your staff is aware of this scam. Also, make it part of your training for new employees.

[From Connection MagazineJan/Feb 2002]