Safe Use of Telecommunications Services

Telecommunications services are susceptible to abuse by identity thieves, frauds, and others. Regulations also protect consumers from unwanted contact by legitimate organizations. UNK users should be aware of and in compliance with these regulations. The safe use of telecommunications services is a shared responsibility.

Complaints may be filed with the FCC regarding junk faxes, telemarketing (including Do-Not-Call violations), and other issues, such as pre-recorded telephone messages, automatic telephone dialing systems, and unsolicited commercial e-mail messages to cell phones, pagers, and other wireless telecommunications devices.  Go to https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us.

Caller ID spoofing--providing false caller ID information--is a common practice of scammers. The FCC offers these tips to help consumers protect themselves from being defrauded:

  • Don't give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves are clever - they often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors, or government agencies to get people to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords and other identifying information.
  • If you get an inquiry from a company or government agency seeking personal information, don't provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company's or government agency's website to find out if the entity that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information from you.

More information about caller ID and spoofing can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/caller-id-and-spoofing.

809 Area Code. Do not respond to e-mail, phone calls, or web pages which tell you to call an "809" phone number unless you are anticipating the call.  This is a scam.  The area code is a valid area code for the Caribbean Islands.

The scam works in this manner.  You will typically receive a message on your answering machine or your pager, which asks you to call the area code 809.  The reason you're asked to call varies.  It can be to receive information about a family member who has been ill, to tell you someone has been arrested, died, etc.  In each case, you are told to call the 809 number right away.  If you call from the U.S., you will be charged $2,425/per minute.  You will get a long recorded message and they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible. 

Because the 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Island, the 809 area code can be used as a "pay-per-call" number.  There is no requirement that the company provide a time period during which you may terminate the call without being charged, as they are not bound by U.S. regulations of 900 numbers. 

Victims of this scam, who have tried to fight these charges, get little response from their local phone company.  They end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong.  They will assert that you did make the call and owe the charges.

It is recommended that no matter how you receive the message to call the 809 area code, do not return the call unless you recognize the phone number or are able to investigate the message further.  Be cautious of all area codes you do not recognize.

Service Technician.   A "service technician" may call you indicating that their company is completing testing on your telephone line.  You will be asked to assist the company by depressing your flashhook or transfer button and dialing a particular set of numbers along with the * or # key on your telephone keypad.  Refuse to assist them with this test and refer them to the Office of Business Services.  The dialing pattern they are asking you to complete may give them access to placing a long distance call and billing the charges to your phone number.  As a general rule, do not dial "9", "0", or the # or * key for anyone.

Receiving calls that are harassing, threatening or a nuisance can be stressful. Knowing what to do can help.

What qualifies as a harassing call? According to Nebraska Revised Staute1, a person commits the offense of "intimidation by telephone" when their call is intended to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend." Specific examples include:

  • Calling anonymous or intentionally failing to disengage call,
  • Using language that is obscene, offensive, or threatening, and
  • Attempting to exhort money or anything of value

What can you do if you receive a harassing call?

  • Keep a record of the call(s) including as much information as possible: Time/date of call(s), phone number or other caller ID information, name of caller if known, what the caller said, other characteristics of caller (did they sound old/young, male/female, intoxicated? Did they have a speech impediment or accent?), if any background noises could be heard.
  • Hang up your phone. Do not engage the caller.
  • Initiate a Call Trace. Dial *57 immediately after hanging up.
  • File a report with UNK Police.
  • Contact Telecommunications for assistance. Other measures can be taken to protect you from harassing calls.
  • Additional advice and information can be found at https://www.privacyrights.org/content/how-put-end-unwanted-or-harassing-phone-calls.

1 Reference: Nebraska Revised Statute 28-1310

Consumers who do not want telemarketing calls to their home or mobile telephone numbers may register on the Do-Not-Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov. The registry only applies to personal phone numbers; business-to-business calls and faxes are not covered.

As a tax-exempt nonprofit, UNK is exempt from the Do-Not-Call-Registry, but may not make telemarketing calls to residential telephone subscribers before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. local time at the called party's location.

Related links:

Robocalls are pre-recorded calls. Pre-recorded telemarketing calls to landline numbers are prohibited without prior expressed consent. Some robocalls to landline numbers are permitted without prior consent, including informational and emergency messages, such as those used by UNKAlert! However, these message cannot contain any advertising or solicitations and must identify the caller. All autodialed or prerecorded non-emergency calls to wireless phones are prohibited without prior expressed consent, regardless of the calls content.

Related links:

It is unlawful to use a fax machine to send an unsolicited advertisement to another fax machine unless there is: 1) An established business relationship; 2) the sender obtained the fax number through voluntary communication with the recipient; and 3) the first page of the fax conspicuously states the recipient can request no further unsolicited communications. This regulation applies to facsimiles sent by UNK.

More information about junk faxes can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/fax-advertising.