Answering or Calling Unknown Numbers Can Cost You

January 29, 2014

Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning cell phone users about a new scam that can result in unauthorized charges appearing on their monthly wireless statement. It's called the "One Ring" scam because the scammers call cell phones, ring once and then disconnect. The scammers then hope you are curious enough about the call that you return the call right away.

Consumers in several states report getting these calls on their mobile phones and then the caller hangs up. When returning the call, they are connected to a paid international adult entertainment service or chat line located outside the country.

“As of yet, we have not had any local victims of this scam contact BBB, but given how rapidly this scam is spreading and growing across the country, it probably won’t be long,” said Mary Hawkes, Director of the BBB Yavapai Branch Office.

Victims may subsequently be billed not only for the incoming international call if they answered, but also the unwanted “premium service,” which typically appears as a $19.95 charge. In some cases, crammers may only put a small charge of several dollars, so as not to arouse suspicion.

The area codes that appear on the caller ID often originate from the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), British Virgin Islands (284), Grenada (473) and Antigua (268).

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 complaints about the practice, and expect the problem to grow.

Better Business Bureau recommends if you don’t recognize an out-of-country telephone number on your caller ID, ignore it and do not call back. Check your wireless bills carefully and inform your carrier immediately if you spot any unauthorized charges.

About BBB of Central, Northern & Western Arizona 
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews® on more than 4.7 million businesses and 11,000 charities, all available free at  Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona is supported by over 11,400 BBB Accredited Businesses. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business reviews and charity reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.