Prison Scam

"Jailhouse Jingle" Phone Scam

"Scammers From Behind Bars"

The scam gets its name from the fact that the scam is most often run by prison inmates in lower-security facilities with access to pay phones.

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What You Should Know

The "Jailhouse Jingle" Prison Scam, which has targeted landline phones for years, is now hitting cell phones at an alarming rate. Inmates dial numbers, hoping to get someone to approve a collect call. If someone does, they hang up and then bill their long distance prison calls to that phone number.

And here's how the phone scam works:

The caller actually is an inmate from a local prison, trying to make phone calls at your expense.
It's called custom forward calling and links your number to the number that is being dialed from. If you fall prey to this scam, inmates will be able to make future collect calls on your dime.

Another variation is the *72 Prison Scam (call forwarding). It's become so prevalent, that a carrier recently issued a security alert explaining how that particular scam works:

You receive a call from an operator saying there is an inmate from a correctional facility who needs you to accept a collect call and the associated charges. Once you accept the call, the caller convinces you to hang up your phone, dial in *72 and another phone number. * 72 is the code used to forward your incoming calls to another number, if you have call forwarding service or if it's available on a per-use basis in your local exchange. If you do this, the inmate will then make additional collect calls to your number, but the calls will be forwarded to someone the inmate knows at the number where you forwarded the calls. That person accepts the charges, but they are billed to you.

How YouMail can help stop prison scams today

YouMail customers are protected from scammers, spammers and other unwanted callers. And it's 100% totally free. Our exceptional call blocking and caller ID capabilities effectively block calls and remove any and all numbers from robocaller lists - FOREVER.

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What you should do

There's a simple, easy rule to protect yourself from *72 scams - never agree to activate this call-forwarding service. And of course, don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize - even if it's from your own area code.

Need to get the specifics on the number? Check out YouMail's online phone directory to see if that number has negative reports or is from a known scammer.

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Our best advice

Let calls from numbers you don't recognize roll to voicemail. Voicemail is your greatest asset against fraud. YouMail identifies known scam callers. They will hear an "out of service" message and the prisoners (scammers) will take you off their list and move on.