Misdialed Toll-Free Numbers: Phone Scam Overview

Sometimes referred to as fat-finger dialing scams, misdialed toll-free numbers can lead to stolen money and other forms of fraud. It's quite easy to accidentally call the wrong phone number, perhaps you entered it incorrectly into your phone or misread it from a web page or packaging. Typically, you'll realize quite quickly if you've dialed a wrong number, however this may not always be the case with toll-free numbers. This is because phone scammers don't want you to realize.

Criminals will purchase toll-free numbers that are quite similar to those of credit card companies, banks, phone carriers, and other customer service lines, in order to trick you into giving up personal information.

How Does It Work?

Anyone can purchase a toll-free number for their business use, knowing this scammers will often times purchase toll-free numbers that are a digit or two off from a trusted toll-free number.

Oftentimes, when massive recalls are issued by a company and customers are given a toll-free number to call, criminals will immediately purchase similar toll-free numbers. Anyone who misdials the toll-free number will give up their information without a second thought to the phone scammer, simply because they think that the person they are calling is a legitimate company representative.

Once a victim has misdialed a toll-free number and is on the line with the fraudster they will be asked for identifying information, this could include anything from personal information such as name, address, Social Security number, to financial information like banking account and credit card number. The scammer will then use your information to steal your identity.

Check and Recheck the Number Being Dialed

The most important thing you need to do when trying to avoid this type of scam is to check and recheck the number before dialing it. Neglecting to verify the toll-free number you are calling is correct could lead to you becoming a victim of this scam. If you unsure if you've dialed the wrong number pay attention to the type of information the representative is requesting. If the information they are asking for seems unnecessary, hang up, recheck the number, and dial again.

It's also important to pay close attention to any websites that are set up for a massive recall. Phone scammers will create websites with similar URLs to the manufacturer's recall site. If the domain name in a URL for a recall site is different from the domain name of the URL for the home page, do not trust it.

Know Who You Are Calling

If you find that a toll-free number you misdialed led to a potentially fraudulent call you should immediately report it to the company that the representative claimed to be from and also to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

You can also help spread the word about these scams by reporting fraudulent toll-free numbers in our community phone book. You can trace a toll-free number using our free reverse phone lookup website or caller ID app for iPhone.