Don't return that phone call
Friday, February 07, 2014 10:00 AM
Cell phone users need to be careful about returning missed calls from unrecognized numbers as a new scam sweeps the nation.
Even though returning the missed call might be tempting, Indiana and Kentucky officials warn the call could be costly. Better Business Bureaus caution people to be aware of a new scam, known as the "One-Ring Scam," that is sweeping the country.
Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana, said the scam isn't affecting just one area, state or region of the United States.
"This scam seems to be everywhere, and it's affecting thousands of people," Maniscalo said in a release. "If you don't recognize the phone number when you get a call, don't answer your cell phone."
Kentucky State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb said these scammers are making profits from people who are curious enough to return calls from unknown numbers.
"A computer program originating outside the U.S. dials American customers and lets the phone ring one or two times before hanging up," Webb said in a release. "This is enough time to register on a phone's missed-calls screen, but typically not enough time for a user to actually answer."
Most phones with Caller ID shows the number as "unknown" or a long-distance area code on the screen, the Better Business Bureau said.
Most of the scamming phone calls originate from international phone numbers in the Caribbean Islands, a KSP release said. Cell phone users are warned to watch for phone calls from the area codes of 809 - Dominican Republic, 876 - Jamaica, 284 - British Virgin Islands, 473- Grenada, 297 - Aruba and 268 - Antigua.
The scammers do not leave a voicemail, and returning callers often have noise on the other end when calling back.
"Many people who receive a missed call will return the call, and that is when their account is charged approximately $20 for the call and $9 for every additional minute," Webb said in the release.
Officials ask cell phone users to watch their phone bills for unfamiliar charges. The Better Business Bureau warns users that the earlier the fraud is documented, the better the chances of having some or all of the scamming charges removed from the bills.
"We are encouraging people to review their cell phone statements and contact their cellular carrier immediately if they notice unauthorized charges," Webb said.