Posted by Elisabeth Leamy, Fri Aug 10 2007, 09:15pm

Are you absent-minded

Are you absent-minded? A poor speller? Do you have big hands? These traits could cost you. Watch out when you're placing collect calls or other operator assisted calls. If you accidentally dial a number that's one digit off from the number you meant to dial, your call may still go through. Some clever companies have snatched up the rights to numbers that are a digit or two off from those of popular services. Say you're trying to call 1-800-COLLECT, but instead you dial 1-800-COLECCT. Instead of reaching Ma Bell, you could reach a company you've never heard of. That company could charge you prices like you've never heard off –two to three times more than average.

1. Slow down a little when you dial. Make sure you hit each number only once.
2. Listen. If the company identifies itself with a name you've never heard or that sounds "off," use caution.
3. If you're calling from a payphone, (people still use them --especially at airports!) the company is required to identify itself and give you a rate quote upon request.
4. Don't accept collect calls either until you know which company you're dealing with.

The Federal Communications Commission wants consumers to help it identify fat finger dialing scams. That's one call you do want to make!

You can file a complaint with the FCC by e-mail (, the Internet (, telephone 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice, 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, or mail (Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554