BBB Warns of 'One-Ring' Cell Phone Scam

  
     
February 05, 2014

DENVERThe Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder 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 preys on people who are curious about an unfamiliar number, which can often be business owners or young people,” said Su Hawk, president and CEO for the BBB of Denver/Boulder. “Once connected, they may be put on hold for a long time, increasing the charge to their phone bill.”

Victims have told 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 be domestic.

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 and Federal Communications Commission have reviewed thousands of cramming complaints, and they expect more.

BBB recommends 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 on your cell phone plan know about this scam, and to ignore phone numbers they do not recognize. 

Always visit findacompany.org when looking for trustworthy businesses to hire, and visit denver.bbb.org for all other free BBB information and services.

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About the BBB

The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 113 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit denver.bbb.org for more information.