The Area Code 844 Scam: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself From It

Calls from 844 area code numbers are almost always dangerous phone scams

The 844 area code scam involves either getting a phone call from a telephone number containing 844 or being contacted by someone else only to be instructed to call an 844 number. Once connected, the scammer usually tries to convince their victim they need to pay an overdue fee or fine ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

What Is the 844 Scam?

844 telephone numbers are toll-free and can be registered fairly easily by individuals and organizations. While phone numbers with an 844 prefix can be used by legit customer support centers, they’re also heavily used by scammers to con their victims. It’s unclear if one group is behind all of the 844 area code scam calls or numerous unrelated individuals are involved.

a conceptual illustration of an area code 844 scammer.
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

Sometimes scammers from non-844 phone numbers can leave voicemail messages asking you to call them back on an 844 number. Do not call these numbers.

Scammers who use an 844 telephone number have been known to impersonate lawyers, bank employees, police officers, computer tech support, and city office personnel to scare their targets into paying money for a completely fabricated fine or handing over bank or credit card information so the scammers can perform the transfer themselves.

How Does the 844 Scam Work?

844 area code scammers seem to research their targets well before calling them and then use the information they find to customize their conversation when they make the call. For example, if the scammers discover you had a credit card several years ago that you no longer use, they may pretend to be someone from a bank looking to collect an overdue fee relating to that card.

If you’ve taken out a loan in the past, the scammers may imitate someone from a debt collection agency and accuse you of not having paid it all back. Usually, the scammers will ask for payment over the phone via a credit or debit card but they can also ask for online bank account login and security information.

Scammers who use 844 area code phone numbers are notorious for their intimidation tactics. Victims of the scam have been known to be threatened with arrest, house repossession, lawsuits, and even an in-person visit by the scammer at their place of residence. In extreme cases, 844 scammers have also called several family members and co-workers of the victim in an effort to prove their legitimacy and place more pressure on their target.

How Do the 844 Scammers Find Victims?

Due to the information that 844 scammers appear to possess when calling their victims, it’s likely that they obtain a list of potential targets from personal and financial details discovered in a company’s data breach or a data dump.

How Do I Avoid Getting Involved in This Scam?

844 area code scammers can be incredibly intimidating and persistent so hanging up on them usually won’t be enough to get them off your back. When talking to them, make sure to write down their name, occupation, and the companies or organizations that they claim to be representing.

Immediately perform a Google search to check for the existence of their associated companies and make sure to tell the scammer, forcefully, that you’ve looked them up, couldn’t find any information on them, and are completely sure that they’re running a scam. Block their number immediately afterwards.

Performing a search for the scammer’s name on LinkedIn can be incredibly effective, especially if they’re claiming to be a lawyer or banker, as most law and financial professionals have a profile on the social network. If you do happen to find them on LinkedIn, make sure that their profile has an established employment history and over 50 confirmed contacts. Less than 50 contacts could suggest that the profile is fake.

Never provide another person with payment information over the phone, even if they claim to be from your bank. If you happen to ever be involved in a real lawsuit, you will be given the official paperwork either in the mail or in-person, not told over the phone.

I’m Already a Victim. What Should I Do?

If you’ve already fallen victim to an area code 844 scam or a similar phone or online con, you should immediately contact your bank and attempt to get any transactions you’ve made with the scammer reversed. If you provided the 844 scammer with your bank account or credit card information, you should inform your bank of this so that they can help secure your account.

It's sometimes possible to reverse a PayPal transaction but, if you’ve sent the scammer money with a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, it will be impossible to get your digital gold back. Regardless of whether you can get your money back, you should always report online scammers to assist the authorities in catching them and preventing others from being tricked the same way you were.

How Do I Avoid Being Targeted for the 844 Scam?

To reduce your risk of being the target of an online or phone call scam, the best strategy is to protect your financial and personal information as best you can. Make sure all of your online accounts have strong and completely different passwords, don’t store your credit card or bank account information on websites, take precautions when shopping online, and be wary of phishing emails and fake websites.