If you accept a collect call from a correctional institution, do not let the caller talk you into hanging up and dialing *72 then a number.

A few weeks ago my dad answered his phone and heard a recorded message saying it was a collect call from the Dallas County Jail. (Probably fearing one of his employees or kids —my brother, for example (haha) —was in trouble, he accepted.) The inmate gave him some sob story about how he couldn’t reach his family, that he was the sole supporter of three children, that he’d been arrested for "traffic tickets", didn’t have any free jail calls left, and would my dad please call his wife at 214-xxx-xxxx, but be sure to dial *72 before the number, because “she works in a hospital” and that would help him reach her directly. My dad was compelled to help the guy but thought it sounded suspicious.

I got a very similar call Saturday night. I accepted it (could be my *brother, you know?) and the inmate gave me a similar story … and asked me to dial 214-809-3898. “But, he said, “make sure you dial *72 because she works in a hospital and that’s how you get through to her directly.” I took down the number and said okay sure buddy, out of curiosity.

I hung up and did what I always do when I have a question—went online and learned that the scam works like this: the inmate/scammer gets you to dial *72 then their buddy/ girlfriend/ mamma’s number which forwards all your call to their buddy/ girlfriend/ mamma. And all the charges, which can be significant by the time you realize what’s happened, will go to you.

Sure enough, my phone continued to ring for hours until I guess the thug realized the trick didn’t take.

*Hey little bro, nothing personal.

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