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"90#" Phone Scam - U-M Virus Busters

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    http://www.umich.edu/~wwwitd/virus-busters/hoaxes/phone.html 90# Phone Scam - U-M Virus Busters The 90# Telephone Scam Warning Is (mostly) A Hoax by Bruce
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2000
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      "90#" Phone Scam - U-M Virus Busters Virus Busters Home

      The "90#" Telephone Scam Warning Is (mostly) A Hoax

      by Bruce P. Burrell (bpb@...
      for the U-M Virus Busters (virus.busters@...)
      Last Modified: 16 February 1998

      This information can be freely reproduced in any medium, as long as the information is unmodified.

      We first heard of the "90#" telephone scam from Harold Lines on 13 February 1998. Thanks, Harold!

      While this seemed unlikely to be something that would work on most phones, we checked to make sure. A security expert for U.S. West who told me the following:

        If a phone company needs to repair a phone, they NEVER call you to assist in the repair. Either they do all testing remotely, or they do it in person. [It's a good idea to demand identification should a telephone repair person appear unexpectedly on your doorstep, of course!]

      Hence this warning falls into the "vaguely good general advice" category, like "wear your raincoat when it's raining" and "don't accept candy from strangers." The problem is that the advice in this "scam alert" isn't very useful -- if there are any phone systems susceptible to this scam, they are very rare. That makes forwarding this "advice" about as useful as telling a Sahara Desert dweller to wear a raincoat.

      Here's the text of the "scam alert":

        On Saturday,  24 January 1998, Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base,
        New Orleans' Quarterdeck received a telephone call from an individual
        identifying himself as an AT&T Service Technician that was running a
        test on our telephone lines.  He stated that to complete the test the
        QMOW should touch nine (9), zero (0), pound sign (#) and hang up.
        Luckily, the QMOW was suspicious and refused.  Upon contacting the
        telephone company we were informed that by pushing 90# you end up
        giving the individual that called you access to your telephone line
        and allows them to place a long distance telephone call, with the
        charge appearing on your telephone call.  We were further informed
        that this scam has been originating from many of the local
        jails/prisons.  Please "pass the word".

      Please do not forward this -- or anything similar -- to all your friends.

      Instead, you should reply to the sender -- and as far back up the email chain as you have energy -- informing the originators that this is just junk email. For this particular case, I suggest that you provide a pointer to this URL (http://www.umich.edu/~virus-busters/hoaxes/phone.html)

      Another good site to visit for info about "90#" is ATT's page on this scam (leaving our site). Thanks to Barry Cohen for bringing that page to our attention.

      For virus or hoax info, please see our main page (http://www.umich.edu/~virus-busters/) or go to another reputable site, like DataFellows (leaving our site).


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      Last updated: Friday, 20-Nov-1998 11:16:30 EST.
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