Cellphone Scam Could Cost You $19.95, Plus $9 Per Minute

Beware the “one-ring phone scam.”

Scammers know that plenty of us don’t even think twice before we return missed calls, and now they’ve figured out a way to take advantage of that. This scam could cost you a $19.95 international calling fee and $9 or more per minute, according the Better Business Bureau.

Here’s how it works: Your cellphone rings once and then the call disconnects. You call back and are then connected “to a paid international adult entertainment service, ‘chat’ line, or other premium service located outside the country,” the BBB says.

Most calls originate outside the U.S. and are made by computers that dial thousands of numbers at a time.

Besides our tendency to automatically return calls, the scam works because no one tries to sell us anything or obtain personal information when we do call back. While we’re on the call, trying to figure out who called and why, our bill keeps growing.

John Matarese at ABC Action News in Tampa, Fla., reports:

We are receiving emails from people all over reporting that they have received these unexpected calls from the Caribbean.

I received one to my cellphone during the Super Bowl, as did two producers in our newsroom.

Luckily, none of us returned the phone call. Had we hit “return call,” there is no knowing what type of charge would have shown up on our bills.

What should you do if you receive a call from a number you don’t recognize? Don’t call back. If you do feel the need to return the call, the BBB suggests you first plug the number into a search engine to investigate the source.

Have you had any one-ring calls on your cellphone recently? Have you been caught in this scam? Tell us about your experience below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Yak Yak Yak

    I got a “missed call” from area code 268 the other day. Then I read that that ac is from some place outside the U.S., so I ditched it. Those scammers are certainly an enterprising bunch; I can’t help thinking they’d probably be successful if they put their abilities to more constructive use.