Cell phone scammers grab victims with one ring

Posted at 7:08 PM, Feb 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-04 19:58:06-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- The Better Business Bureau is warning cell phone users about a "One Ring Scam" that can result in unauthorized charges on your wireless bills.

Victims' cell phones will ring just long enough to have a missed call notice. The numbers appear to be a phone number with a three digit area code based in America.

But they're not.

When victims call back, they are actually linked to an international number that's established as a "premium service" and charges your phone up to $20 dollars per minute.

In some cases, cellphone statement has featured charges of only a few dollars in hopes that cell users won't notice, according to the BBB.

Several scamming area codes that appear on the caller ID have been identified, including 473, 809, 284, 649, 268 or 876. They are country codes for islands like Grenada, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

The BBB recommends that consumers ignore incoming or missed calls from out-of-state phone numbers that they don't recognize, and carefully check phone bills.

“If someone needs to reach you and the call does not go through, they will leave you a voice message or they’ll call back,” Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA said in a statement.

“Fight the temptation to call unknown numbers back and simply wait to see if the unknown party calls back, sends an identifiable text message, or leaves a voicemail message. Regularly check your phone statement for small unauthorized charges you might normally overlook.”

The BBB provided some tips on being proactive and saving your money:

Look over that statement. Your monthly cell statement is there for a reason. Closely monitor your monthly bills to spot unauthorized charges. The sooner they are spotted, the sooner you can dispute them.

Protect yourself. Ask your telephone provider if there’s a way to restrict third-party billing on your account. Some telephone providers may offer this service for free or for a small fee.

Curiosity killed the consumer. Don’t call that number back! Odds are you don’t know anyone from the most common international area codes used in this scheme, and if you do know someone they will leave a message or call back.

Know where to complain. If you are unable to resolve the issue through your telephone provider, file a complaint with the FCC for charges related to telephone service and to the BBB for unresolved cramming charges on your phone bill.