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Fraud & Scams

Be sure to do your research on donation solicitations before you decide to give. 

1. Research the charity. Do a charity search at; or  What should you be looking for?  Primarily, for how much of the charity's expenses go to the cause.  Follow the 65 percent rule of thumb.

2. Find out where the charity is.  For example, if it's an out-of-state charity, your state or local chapter might not benefit at all.

3. Consider giving directly to the charity. You may send your check directly to the charity. Get its address from one of the above websites or call the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance at (703) 276-0100.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a website dedicated to how to avoid internet fraud.  If you believe that you have been the victim of a securities-related fraud, through the Internet or if you believe that any person or entity may have violated or is currently violating federal securities laws, you can submit a complaint using their online complaint form or email the SEC at  If you are aware of an online fraud, tell the SEC about it.
Common Fraud Scams

Telemarketing Fraud
Fraud Alert
Nigerian Letter or 419 Fraud
Impersonation/Identity Fraud
Advance Fee Scheme
Health Insurance

Investment Related Scams

Letter of Credit Fraud
Prime Bank Note
Ponzi Scheme
Pyramid Scheme

Internet Scams

Internet Auction Fraud
Non-Delivery of Merchandise
Credit Card Fraud
Investment Fraud
Business Fraud
Nigerian Letter Scam

Fraud Target: Senior Citizens

Health Insurance Fraud
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
Funeral and Cemetery Fraud
Fraudulent "Anti-Aging" Products
Telemarketing Fraud
Internet Fraud
Investment Schemes


Calls from "809," "649" and "284" Area Codes

The Scam Works Something Like This:

Your wireless phone rings once or twice and then disconnects the call. When the number appears in your wireless phone log as a missed call, it appears to be a typical domestic telephone number starting with a “649” area code; or you get an e-mail or voicemail (on your residential wired telephone) telling you to call a phone number with an “809”, “284”, “876,” or some other three-digit international area code.

When you return the call, you assume you are making a domestic long distance call – as “649,” “809,” “284,” “876,” and other area codes involved in this scam, appear to be typical three-digit U.S. area codes.

When you dial the three-digit area code plus the number, however, you are connected to a phone number outside the United States, often in Canada or the Caribbean, and are charged expensive international call rates, and may be charged for pay-per-call services as well. (In this case, “649” goes to the Turks and Caicos, “809” goes to the Dominican Republic, “284” goes to the British Virgin Islands, and “876” goes to Jamaica.)

You don’t find out about the higher international call rates until you receive your phone bill.

What You Can Do to Minimize the Risk of This Happening to You:

*Check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls.

*Be aware that there are many 3-digit area codes (mostly in the Caribbean) that connect callers to international telephone numbers.

*If you do not otherwise make international calls, ask your local or wireless phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.

To read more about calls from "809," "649," "284" area codes visit the Federal Communication Commission's website at

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