Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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February 4, 2014

BBB warns of phone scam

Better Business Bureaus across the country are seeing a rash of the “One Ring Scam” on cell phones. Returning a missed call from an unknown phone number might be tempting, but it could cost you.

Here’s how the scam works:

Your phone rings once or twice and – with most phones having Caller ID – the number will show as “unknown” or a long distance area code you’re not familiar with on the screen.

By the time you answer it, no one is on the other end of the phone and they will not leave a voicemail. So, you may try calling back, only to find no one is answering or there is only noise on the other end.

It’s called the “One Ring Scam,” and it is part of a practice called phone cramming.

Cell phone plans are billed through automation and usage on both incoming and outgoing calls. You are recognized if you answer the call, and a billing statement is passed through from the service provider on the other end of the line.

The scammers count on the fact that consumers don’t always look closely at their monthly statements, which may include a premium rate of $19.95 plus international fees. Or if they do review their statements, consumers might assume the charges are legitimate.

Several Better Business Bureaus across the country are reporting this is happening to consumers, and the number shows up as unknown or an international phone number. Victims have reported calls originating from the Caribbean Islands, like Grenada, Antigua, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands.

“This scam seems to be everywhere, and it’s affected thousands of people,” said Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana. “If you don’t recognize the phone number when you get a call, don’t answer your cell phone.”

If you think you’re a victim of the scam, immediately notify your cell phone provider, and keep an eye on your phone bill. The earlier the fraud is documented, the better your chances are for having some or all of the charges removed.

If it’s an unknown number or an area code you’re not familiar with, leave it alone. Check your phone statements, and look at all charges.

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