Q. How are cheats able to charge calls to my phone?
A. First they call you, often posing as service technicians “testing” your phone line, or as police officers or emergency room workers. Depending on your service, they’ll ask you to dial *72, 72# or 90#, which activates your call-forwarding function, and then a phone number. Scammers can then make long-distance calls from that number and bill them to you. This ruse, doable on landlines or cellphones, “surrenders” your phone number to the scammers until you deactivate call forwarding, usually by dialing *73.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of “Scam-Proof Your Life.”