The 90# Spam Scam (or not)

Joan Luchs, chairperson with the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council, sent some of the area’s residents an email warning regarding the “90# Spam Scam”.

I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service technician (could also be Telus) who was conducting a test on the telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touchnine( 9 ), zero( 0 ), the pound sign ( # ), and then hang up.

Luckily, I was suspicious and refused.Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individualfull access to your telephone line, which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone number.

Alas, urban legend reference site Snopes.com says that while the 90# scam is possible, the risk to residential customers is slim to none:

Is this scam possible? Technically, yes. This trick can work on businesses, hospitals, government agencies, and other organizations that use telephone private branch exchanges (PBXs) to Telephone handle their calls…

…However, this warning is overblown in that there is practically no chance that the scam outlined above could affect the average residential or cell phone customer. Unless you’re staying at a hotel or using a phone in some other setting where you have to press ‘9’ to obtain an outside line, the only result you’ll obtain from trying this is likely to be a fast busy signal.