Scam alert: The next time you see a missed call on your mobile phone from a number you don’t recognize, don’t call back. The newest cell phone fraud is the “one ring” scam. If you fall for it, or click for it, you could find yourself charged a bundle, perhaps as much as $30.
It’s called “cramming,” when third-party scammers sneak bogus charges onto legitimate phone bills, and according to Slate magazine, the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission say it’s on the rise.
Here’s how it works:
Scammers based overseas use auto-dialing computer programs to call phones all over the country and hang up after one ring, which is just enough to cause a missed call message to register on your phone.
If you call back, you are connected to a paid-per-call “adult entertainment service” located overseas, and you could be charged as much as $19.95 for the connection, plus $9 or more per minute for the unwanted “service”. Other scammers charge just a few bucks in the hopes you won’t notice it on your monthly bill.
It’s easy to make a mistake with an area code, since there are so many and it’s tough to keep track of all the new ones and remember where they are. But if you get a call from any of these area codes, ignore it, unless there is a caller ID and you actually know the person calling:
- 268 – Antigua
- 284 – British Virgin Islands
- 473 – Grenada
- 809 – Dominican Republic
- 876 – Jamaica
If you’re really tempted to call back that number, don’t do it until you check one of the online reverse directories.
Always check your monthly bill for fraudulent charges – and not just mobile phone bill. Also check your credit card bill.