Avoiding International Fax Fraud

Scenario: You receive a request for detailed information about your products or services and the prices.

Scam: The only way you can provide the information is by return fax to a number that turns out to be in a foreign country, resulting in expensive charges on your phone bill.

Beware of faxes, letters or e-mails asking you for detailed information about your products or services and providing only a fax number for you to respond.

No matter what elaborate explanation is given, these people aren't really interested in buying anything from your business. The real motivation is to get you to send a lengthy fax to a foreign phone number, resulting in high charges on your phone bill.

While calls and faxes to most foreign countries require dialing 011, a country code, a city code, and then the number, calls and faxes to and some parts of the

Caribbean don't. They can be reached by dialing the same number of digits as in the So you may not recognize a number as foreign - until you get the bill.

When you dial a foreign number, your local phone company connects you to your long-distance company, which connects you to the phone company in the country you are calling. That company connects you to the number you dialed. Part of what you pay for the call or fax goes to the foreign phone company - and the scammer profits by arranging to share the revenue with the company.

If you're not sure where a long-distance phone or fax number is, call 00 and ask the operator or use the Area Code Look Up Service provided free on the Telecommunications Research & Action Center website.

The person responsible for paying your phone bills should check them carefully first. If you've been duped into calling or faxing to a foreign phone number without realizing it, notify your long-distance company.

While you are generally liable for long-distance charges, your long-distance company may agree to make an adjustment, at least on a one-time basis.

Report fax fraud to law enforcement agencies.