Local calls can be charged as long distance

Thanks to the surge in people signing up for Internet phones, local phone calls may not always be local anymore. Sometimes, a call across the street may end up routed through another country first.

John Matarese has some important information to keep in mind before your next phone call in this Call 11 for Action Alert.

When you call someone down the street, you expect it to be a local call. After all they're just a few homes away. Because of Internet phones, that call may not be local at all. Janet Roy dialed up one of her neighbors recently for a couple of pleasant chats. Though, there was nothing pleasant when her AT&T long distance bill arrived. "The long distance calls were a shock," she said.

For those two chats with a neighbor down the street, Janet was charged $6.67 and $7.25, totaling over $13. The calls, according to the bill, went to Central Kentucky.

Roy said, "I noticed it said Wilmore, Kentucky on the bill. I don't know anyone from Wilmore, Kentucky." Roy says her neighbor mentioned she had signed up with Vonage, an Internet phone service, so she had to dial an area code. Roy figured that was just how Vonage worked. "She didn't tell me it was long distance. I just assumed it was local."

A Vonage spokesman told News 11 customers are allowed to choose their area code, so they can pick a region where they have family or do a lot of business.

That presents problems for friends like Janet Roy who don't realize their neighbor 50 yards away is miles away in the Internet phone world.

Remember, if you even have to dial an area code, and its not an obvious 800 number, stop and ask questions.

Even if its your neighbor, it could still be a long distance call.

Posted by LS

CBS and Associated Press contributed to this report.