Better Business Bureau 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 program computers to send thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers, ring once and then disconnect. The scammers then hope you are curious enough about the call that you return the call right away.
"As of yet, we have not had any complaints filed but given how rapidly this scam is spreading and growing across the country our opinion is it won't be long." said John Paschall, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Southeast Texas.
When the cell phone owner returns the call, they are charged $19.95 for the international call fee. After that, there is a $9.00 per minute charge. "Often they will first hear music then maybe advertising, but it's easy to see how quickly these charges can add up," noted Paschall.
Consumers who have been duped by these calls report that they are coming from the Caribbean Islands including Grenada, Antigua, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands.
If a person thinks they may have fallen for this scam, they should immediately alert their cell phone carrier and keep an eye on their cell phone bill. The earlier they document the fraud, the better their chances of having some or all of the charges removed.
Paschall added, "To be as safe as possible, the best thing to do if your phone rings and it's an international number you don't recognize, don't answer and don't call back"
To protect yourself from unauthorized charges on your cell phone bill, BBB offers the following tips:
· 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.
For more information on scams, go to www.bbb.org.