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Posted: 1:53 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014

Beware of the one ring scam on your phone

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


That missed call on your cellphone could cost you $30…but maybe not in the way you think.

One of my Facebook followers let me know about an old scam that has roared back to life. Years ago, crooks found a way to exploit a handful of international area codes that don't require a foreign code to dial up.

Now that scam has resurfaced as what's being called the "one ring scam." Crooks are using robocalling technology to place Internet calls that only ring once to cell phones.

If you pick up, the robocaller just drops the line. But the bigger danger is if you miss the call. Like so many people, you might think it's an important call and dial that number right back.

Bad move.

Turns out the area codes are in the Caribbean. That call will cost you between $15 and $30! And to add insult to injury, the criminals behind these calls will sign you up (through your cell provider) for bogus services that will be crammed on your phone bill if you return their call.

WTAE/Better Business Bureau reports there are 5 area codes being used to perpetrate this ploy:

  • 473
  • 809
  • 876
  • 284
  • 268

The key thing to know is, when an unfamiliar number comes in, you're better off waiting for a voicemail to determine if you have a legitimate caller before calling it back. You can also Google the phone number itself. If the number is a scam, chances are good that others will have posted warnings about it.

Finally, how can you tell if further phony charges are being crammed onto your cell bill? Look for innocuous terms like "special services," "Internet advertising," "service fee," "calling plan," or "minimum monthly usage fee." A typical cram charge for a business might be $10 or $15. For a consumer, it will be more like $5 or $10.

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