Let your fingers do the walking, but use your brain to do the thinking first. The “809” telephone scam has many permutations but they all involve a message to you (either by email, phone or pager) that you immediately call or fax a number in the “809” area code or some other area code in the Caribbean. Examples of why you should call or fax the phone number include avoiding litigation, receiving information about someone who has been arrested or died, winning a wonderful prize, or getting a job.

Most people are not aware that they are making an international call when they dial the “809” area code, since you simply dial 1 -809-xxx-xxxx to make the call. No international codes are required. The trick is that some phone numbers in the “809” area code are “pay-per-call” numbers (such as 1-900 numbers), but there are no legal requirements that callers be informed that they are being charged extra. When you return one of these, “pay-per-call” 809 calls, the scamsters try to keep you on the phone as long as possible, and you may be charged up to S25 per minute for the call. We’d also heard there are now new related scams using the prefixes 500 and 700, so be cautious about area codes you don’t recognize. Check your telephone directory or call the operator to determine where the area code is before making your call.

Control access to your telephone so unauthorized callers can’t use your phone to call these services. Remember that a block on calls to “900” services will not stop calls to “011” or “809” numbers. If you’re sure you won’t need to make international calls, call your long-distance carrier and ask them to put an international block on your telephone line.

Activists Speak About New U.N. Forum Advocates of indigenous rights at a United Nations briefing discussed the new Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues prior to the opening of a four-day conference on indigenous peoples in early February.

Speakers at the briefing said the creation of the forum opens new avenues for bringing indigenous perspectives on health, development, environment and education into the U.N. system. Its first meeting will take place May 13-24 in New York.

The forum is composed of eight government representatives and eight indigenous experts. Regional groups appointed the government experts. The indigenous members come from Canada, Colombia, Nepal, Norway, Russia, Peru, Togo and the United States. At least two of the government representatives are also indigenous.

Willy Littlechild, a Canadian Cree, said the forum is “a good and new authority that will have some weight.” He said the forum could take existing U.N. plans, “blow the dust off of them and see if we can move on some of the stuff that’s already there.” Source: United Nations Wire