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Better Business Bureau ®
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Alaska, Oregon & Western Washington
“Ring and Run” Phone Scam Preys on Curiosities
“One Ring” Phone Scam Being Reported Across the United States
January 31, 2014

First recognized by Better Business Bureaus on the East Coast, the “One Ring” phone scam is now being reported across the United States. As an industry leader in identifying and tracking emerging scam trends, BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is alerting the public to this simple—yet extremely effective—ploy that can result in unauthorized charges on wireless statements.

Automated dialers blast thousands of random calls to mobile numbers that are gleaned from public listings or obtained from black market dealers—who hustle “sucker lists”—but disconnect after one ring. The scammers count on call recipients to notice the missed calls in call logs and return them out of curiosity.

However, return calls are often directed to expensive international hotlines—sometimes peddling “adult entertainment”—that can charge upwards of $19.95 to connect plus additional costs per minute. Charges typically appear on month-end statements as “premium services.”

Consumers and businesses report calls from several different area codes:

  • Dominican Republic—809
  • Jamaica—876
  • British Virgin Islands—284
  • Grenada—473

The illegal process of sneaking unapproved charges onto phone bills is referred to as “cramming” by the Federal Trade Commission, and is one of the most common consumer complaints in America.

While it is unlikely that recipients will be billed for accepting incoming calls, wireless carriers assume that users accept charges by voluntarily returning calls. BBB reminds consumers to not be dumb with smartphones:

  • Never return calls to unfamiliar foreign numbers.
  • Regularly check wireless statements and immediately report discrepancies.
  • Add phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry and report violations.

For more information on the latest scams, visit BBB’s Scam Source.

Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is one of 113 in North America and the largest BBB by geographical service area. BBB is a neutral not-for-profit public reporting agency committed to trust in the marketplace. For more information on ethical business standards and BBB Accreditation, or to access free BBB Business Reviews, Charity Reviews, scam alerts or find local event information, contact BBB or visit bbb.org.