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In Central Georgia & the CSRA
Miss a call? The “one-ring” phone scam could cost you.
February 05, 2014

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning cell phone users about a new scam that can add unauthorized charges to their monthly wireless bills.

The scam has been dubbed the “one ring” scam because victims’ phones often ring only once before the call is disconnected. If a victim tries to return the call, they are charged a $19.95 international call fee plus $9 a minute for the duration of the call.

This scam plays of the curiosity of our human nature; more specifically, millennial and seniors. How it works is the scammers use a computer to send thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers. The call rings once, and then stops. The scammers then hope you are curious enough about the phone call that you return the call right away. Once connected, the victim may be put on hold for ages, increasing the charge to their phone bill. These people have no conscience and managed to keep one local gentleman, who thought he was getting results from a recent medical test, on hold for close to fifteen minutes.

Victims have told the BBB that the calls appear to come from Caribbean nations including Grenada, Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or the British Virgin Islands. Area codes for the calls include 268, 274, 473, 809 and 876. However, some calls may display as domestic.

The BBB advises consumers to take note of the phone number the calls come from and notify their cell phone carriers immediately if they believe they have been victims of the scam. By documenting the fraud, consumers may have a better chance of getting the charges removed.

The practice of third parties placing unauthorized charges on wireless accounts is called “cramming.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have reviewed thousands of cramming complaints, and they expect many more.

The BBB recommends that if you receive a call displaying an unfamiliar out-of-state telephone number on your caller ID, ignore the call and do not call back. Check your wireless bills carefully and inform your carrier if you spot any unauthorized charges.

BBB tips for avoiding cell phone fraud include:

  • When in doubt, don’t pick up or call back. If you don’t recognize an out-of-state telephone number on your caller ID, ignore it.
  • Understand your mobile bill. Be sure to keep track of what services you pay for, 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 bill cramming. 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.
  • Inform other users on your mobile phone plan. It’s important to let other friends and family members, especially teenagers, on your cell phone plan know about this scam, and to ignore phone numbers they do not recognize.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA at www.bbb.org or 800-763-4222.

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Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA, Inc. serving 41 counties in Central Georgia and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, Web site: www.bbb.org or E-mail: info@centralgeorgia.bbb.org or info@csra.bbb.org