Roanoke, VA (January 24, 2014) – Your cell phone starts ringing but as you reach to pick it up the caller disconnects the call. Hmm, a strange number on the caller ID. Could Mom and Dad be calling from someone else’s phone? They do seem to get out-smarted by smartphones. You dial back the number only to hear “welcome to the best adult entertainment line on the planet.”
…That’s not your parents.
Better Business Bureau is warning cell phone users about a cell phone scam that can result in unauthorized charges on wireless statements. Customers in several states have reported receiving calls where the caller either hangs up after one ring or hangs up as soon as the call connects. When cell owners call back they are connected to a paid international adult entertainment service or chat line located outside of the country. Next thing they know, their wireless statement has charges not only for the international call, but also “premium service” fees that typically appear as a $19.95 charge. In other cases, the statement features charges of only a few dollars in the hopes that cell users won’t notice. Young people are especially susceptible to the scheme as they are typically more engaged with their cell phones and may be more likely to call back a missed call.
“If someone needs to reach you and the call does not go through, they will leave you a voice message or they’ll call back,” says Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “Fight the temptation to call unknown numbers back and simply wait to see if the unknown party calls back, sends an identifiable text message, or leaves a voicemail message. Regularly check your phone statement for small unauthorized charges you might normally overlook.”
The area codes that appear on the caller ID often originate from the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), British Virgin Islands (284) and Grenada (473).
The scheme has been coined the “One Ring Scam” because many of the calls are made by computers which dial thousands of random cell phone numbers, ring once, and then disconnect.
Be proactive and save your money with the following BBB tips:
Look over that statement. Your monthly cell statement is there for a reason. Closely monitor your monthly bills to spot unauthorized charges. The sooner they are spotted, the sooner you can dispute them.
Protect yourself. Ask your telephone provider if there’s a way to restrict third-party billing on your account. Some telephone providers may offer this service for free or for a small fee.
Curiosity killed the consumer. Don’t call that number back! Odds are you don’t know anyone from the most common international area codes used in this scheme, and if you do know someone they will leave a message or call back.
Know where to complain. If you are unable to resolve the issue through your telephone provider, file a complaint with the FCC for charges related to telephone service and to the BBB for unresolved cramming charges on your phone bill.
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution service, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.
If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBBWesternVA and on Facebook at facebook.com/BBBWesternVA.