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Embarq Mythbuster

Phil Harvey

11:15 AM -- It's hard to find examples of good PR these days, so we'd be wise to point them out when they show up.

Yesterday's PR from Embarq Corp. (NYSE: EQ) on "Urban Legends" was a bit campy, but very interesting, timely, and generally smart, given all the nonsense that folks pass around as fact in mass emails these days.

Here are two most interesting urban legends highlighted in the press release:

Urban Legend #2: Inmates in prisons can call and "trick" people into accepting collect calls that go to another number not associated with the victim.

"This, unfortunately, can be accomplished," said
[Dallas] Hayden [manager of Investigations and Law Enforcement Support at Embarq]. "And it's not just inmates who can do this. If a victim gets a call from someone saying they are in jail, for example, and misdialed and requests the victim dial *72 followed by a number, don't do it. This will activate the victim's call forwarding feature."

If this happens, Hayden says, any call to the victim's number goes to the forwarded number. The scammer then has people call the victim's number and the scammer gets the call. This can get expensive if people make collect calls to the scammer...

Urban Legend #4: Phone customers have been tricked into calling phone numbers with 809 area codes that result in high charges on their phone bills.

"This scam is real," warned Hayden, "and it is also used with area codes other than 809."

The scam works like this: A scammer calls a customer and leaves a message on their answering machine or pager telling them to call a number with an 809 area code to collect a prize or get information about a sick or injured relative. When people call the number, they think they are making a long distance call within the United States.

"In reality, the call is going to the Dominican Republic or other high-cost calling area," said Hayden. "Victims are unaware they are being charged international rates until they receive their phone bills."

Hayden added that "it is especially hard for us to resist calling the number when the message you received indicated your loved one was sick or injured and that you needed to call immediately. But beware! Look first at the area code, if you don't know where it is, look it up and use your common sense about whether you know anyone in that area.

Embarq takes its fair share of pounding for having a silly name, logo, and just generally being a phone company. True, this constant teasing occurs mostly because we're mean, not because they're doing anything wrong. Mostly. Still, we thought this PR was well done and way more interesting than most of the stuff that gets stuffed in our inboxes.


— Phil Harvey, Barely Managing Editor, Light Reading

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