BBB warns of the 'One-ring phone scam': Don't let your curiosity fuel costly calls

March 04, 2014

February 4, 2014 - CALGARY, ALBERTA - Missed calls from an unknown number can sometimes spark curiosity to find out who that person is and why they contacted you. With digital communication devices making instantaneous contact with strangers and anonymous online users easy, it seems only natural to call back an unfamiliar number. With multiple reports from the U.S. about the "One-Ring Phone Scam", it could only be a matter of time before scammers target Canada.

How the scam works:

Your phone rings once and as soon as you answer the call, the caller immediately hangs up. Your phone then shows a missed call from a number you do not recognize. Those who are curious enough to return the calls are then billed approximately $19.95 for an international call, depending on how long you stay on the line. If you call, you may hear music and/or audio-advertising while you are unknowingly connected to a caller-paid toll service or chat-line located outside the country. Reported area codes of the One-Ring Phone Scam include the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), British Virgin Islands (284), Grenada (473) and Dominica (767), with the possibility of local area codes as well.

President and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, Sandra Crozier-McKee, says even though some consumers may feel they should return an unknown missed call, their curiosity could end up costing them. "BBB is being proactive by alerting Canadians about the "One-Ring Phone Scam," she says. "In anticipation of Canadian reports, we want to educate consumers about the warning signs so they can protect themselves. If you're expecting a call, it should be from someone whose contact information you already have and recognize, otherwise you should ignore unknown numbers."

BBB provides the following tips to protect you from unauthorized charges on your cell phone:

  • When in doubt, don't pick up or call back. If you don't recognize an out-of-province telephone number on your caller ID, ignore it. 
  • Understand your mobile bill. Be sure to keep track of what services you pay for and any additional features or changes you may have added to your cell phone plan which will affect the cost. That way you will be able to determine if any charges are unauthorized.
  • Keep a close eye on monthly statements. Anyone can become a victim of the One-Ring Phone Scam. Monitoring your bill is the best way to determine whether or not you've been affected. The sooner you spot any unexpected charges, the sooner you can stop them.
  • Add restrictions to your account. Contact your service provider to see if you can restrict third-party billing on your account.

For more information and consumer tips, visit

Media Contact:

Leah Brownridge
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Phone: (403) 531-8793



About BBB:

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