fat finger dialing
n. A telephone scam in which a company sets up a toll number that is one digit different than a popular number, so that the company earns money when customers accidentally mis-dial the legitimate number; mis-dialing a phone number in this manner. Also: fat-finger dialing, fat fingers dialing.

Example Citations:
But state and federal regulators say Homrich and his son Eugene are two of the latest consumers to fall prey to a trick known as "fat finger dialing."

It works like this: A caller dials a number like 1-800-COLLECT to make a collect call but misspells the word or hits an incorrect button. He accidentally dials something like 1-800-COILECT.

The call is connected — but not by the company the caller planned to use, which in Homrich's case was MCI. Instead, the call is carried by a company that secures 800 numbers similar to those advertised but charges much higher rates.
—Rosalie Rayburn, "Wrong number," Albuquerque Journal, September 18, 2003

AT&T has sued Sprint and two other rivals for allegedly stealing calls from AT&T toll-free operators through what is called a "fat-finger dialing" scheme. AT&T says Sprint, One Call Communications and ASC Telecom have dozens of toll-free numbers that are similar to those of AT&T's operator-assisted service. "Consumers who inadvertently dial one of defendants' numbers have been deceived into using defendants' services," the complaint says.
—"HealthSouth to Miss Payments," The Washington Post, March 28, 2003

Earliest Citation:
Joel Drizen noticed something didn't look right on his phone bill, a four-minute collect call placed to him by his brother three miles away using what he thought was 1-800-COLLECT. The cost: over $16. A charge almost three times higher than he expected from a company he'd never heard of before, ASC Telecom.

After investigation, they realized that he dialed 1-800-COLLECT with three L's as opposed to two L's. ...

Mr. ROBERT TOLCHIN (Plaintiff's Attorney): ASC is basing its entire business model on what they call fat fingers dialing. That means they're going to take advantage of people who have fat fingers and mis-dial the telephone.
—Matt Lauer, "Mis-dialed collect call schemes," The Today Show, April 4, 2002

Related Words:

Categories: