“One-Ring Phone Scams”: Do Not Let Your Curiosity Fuel Costly Calls

March 26, 2014

Missed calls from an unknown number tend to spark curiosity. Most of us would like to know who called and for what reason. As digital communication evolves to make instant contact with strangers and anonymous online users easier, it seems natural to call back unfamiliar numbers. Unfortunately, multiple reports from the U.S. and Canada have discovered that “One-Ring Phone Scams” have been targeting mobile phones, causing expensive charges to the user’s account.

How does the scam work? Your phone rings once and as soon as you answer the call, the caller immediately disconnects. Your phone then shows a missed call from an unrecognized number. Anyone curious enough to return the call is then billed approximately $19.95 for an international call, depending on how long you stay on the line. If you call, you might hear music 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.

We want to educate consumers about the warning signs of “One-Right Phone Scams”. It is important to protect yourself accordingly. If you are expecting a call, it should be from someone whose contact information you already have and recognize. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to ignore unknown numbers. Even though you may feel you should return an unknown missed call, your curiosity could end up costing you.

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 bbb.org.