Don't dial 90# hoax floating around again

The following email is being circulated by my friends, so I’ve gotta clear it up (my emphasis added):

I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service technician who was conducting a test on telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine (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 individual full access to your telephone line, which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone number. I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many local jails/prisons.

I have also verified this information with UCB Telecom, Pacific Bell, MCI, Bell Atlantic and GTE. Please beware. DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE. The GTE Security Department requested that I share this information with EVERYONE I KNOW. PLEASE pass this on to everyone YOU know. If you have mailing lists and/or newsletters from organizations you are connected with, I encourage you to pass on this information to them, too.

After checking with Verizon they said it was true so do not dial (9), zero (0), the pound sign # and hang up for anyone.

Why would they choose e-mail as the medium of communication? Why would they do it by word-of-mouth? It’d be worth it to use a more popular channel, such as television or radio, in addition to sending all customers a letter of warning.


Primarily, the scam was targeted to business and only applied to Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone systems that require users to dial 9 or 9-0 to get an outside line. Since this letter builds on the original and tries to apply the exact same scam to mobile phones, it is hard to believe it’s accurate.

Go through the sources, use common sense, and don’t be scurred.

Sources: Don’t Dial 90#, Don’t Dial 90# on your Cellular Phone (;

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Bryan Villarin

Bryan works at Automattic. He's also a cat whisperer. Sometimes…a photographer, and card magician.

Talk to me, Goose

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