The Truth behind 90#

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Background

Have you gotten an email that says something like “I got a call from AT&T saying they were running a test on the line and to press 90#, but I was suspicious and didn’t do it”?

Various versions of this scam have gone around, some with stories attached saying that it cost them thousands of dollars, or that their business was stuck with a ten thousand dollar phone bill. Others have mentioned that “phone calls to embarrassing phone numbers” have shown up on their bill and cost them their marriage.

Is it true?

This is a “fear-mongering scam email” that’s been circulating the internet for almost a decade.

Who does it affect?

First, this scam doesn’t  affect home users! If you’ve got a landline phone, a cell phone, or a VoIP phone, you’re safe from 90#.

90# only affects companies that are running a private branch exchange (PBX) system. Not only that, but it doesn’t work on all PBX systems! Even on those that do run PBX’s that allow 90# (or #90 in some cases), most PBX administrators are smart enough to disable this feature on user-lines and only keep them active on administrative lines.

AT&T even had an official page back in February of 2002 detailing the problem: http://web.archive.org/web/20020223071837/http://www.att.com/features/0398/90pound.html

What was it supposed to do?

9-0-# is the key code to enable external forwarding, and allows a person to forward phone calls through that line of service.

This feature was often used by business travelers to make long-distance phone calls through their phone line at work rather than paying very high prices for those calls from hotel rooms while on the road.

It never has given anyone “full access to your phone line” or “access to your account.”

Now, forward this back to everyone that you forwarded the scam to, along with an apology stating your regret. 😉

You can thank me later.

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