One-ring phone scam costs consumers big bucks

Posted at: 02/03/2014 1:59 PM
By: Garrett Haake, KSHB

Photo: KSHB

(KSHB) -- Don't know the number calling you? Then don't return the call.

That's the warning from the Better Business Bureau. 

The BBB says this is a new type of cramming scam that is targeting people across the country.

They call it the "One-Ring" scam.

The scammers behind it don't care about the Do Not Call list, so being on that list won't help you.

"It is a new take on an old scam, so we are familiar with this type of thing, but the one-ring scam is brand new," Better Business Bureau Spokesman Aaron Reese said.

The BBB says this is how the One-Ring Scam works:

-Scammers from outside the country are robocalling cellphones at random.
-Your phone will ring once, then stop. When you answer, no one is there.
-If you are curious and call it back, you are charged as much as $20 for an international call.
-You may also be charged a monthly fee for joining some club you know nothing about. By calling the number, you "authorize" them to place a fee on your cell phone bill.

“They make money by operating in other countries where their laws about phone usage and toll free calls are not exactly the same, they're not uniform,” Reese said. “So when you call these numbers back you get a caller-initiated fee, it works just like a 900 number. You're getting charged $19.95 up front, and $9 every additional minute.”

Jenny Vergara, a food writer based in Kansas City, nearly became a victim of the scam Thursday afternoon.

“It was almost like a half ring on my phone. It was enough of a sound that I looked over at my screen and when I saw Antigua I thought; ‘huh.’ And about the time I was thinking ‘I wonder what that could be,’ it just dropped,” Vergara said of a call she received from a number based in the Caribbean island of Antigua

What to Do

The Better Business Bureau says to protect yourself, do not call back any unknown callers on your cell phone, especially if they are not in your local area code.

If you are curious, Google the phone number. If it is legitimate business, your doctor's office, or your insurance company, you will find that out right away on Google. But resist the urge to call back.

Read more: KSHB