Crime

Feb 10, 2014 7:35 PM by Andy Koen

Consumer alert: Cellphone missed call scam

COLORADO SPRINGS - The Better Business Bureau is warning cellphone customers of a new scam that could cost you. It's called the one ring phone scam.

"It rings once or twice and then they hang up," explains Crystal Johnston, communications director for the BBB of Southern Colorado.

If you call back, your cellphone bill is charged an automatic $19.95 plus an extra $9 for every minute you stay on the line.

"It's just like calling a 1-900 number without even knowing you're calling 1-900 number because it's rerouted," Johnston said.

Early on, the calls came primarily from area codes in the Caribbean. Calls from Antigua (268), the British Virgin Islands (284), Dominican Republic (809), Grenada (473), Jamaica (876) and Turks & Caicos Islands (649) were all reported.

Then the scammers changed tactics and began "spoofing" or disguising their numbers with area codes from Louisiana, New York and Illinois.

"Spoofing isn't all together against the law," explained John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the cellular trade group CTIA - The Wireless Association.

"It is (illegal) for fraudulent purposes like this, and for deceptive purposes, but there is a loophole or two in federal regulation."

He adds that international communication law keeps the big wireless providers from outright blocking these types of scams. However, Walls encourages scam victims to contact their wireless providers right away.

"The carriers want to know when there's a problem and it's much easier to nip it in the bud or get to it when it happens initially," he said.

Often, the companies can credit your account for fraudulent charges.

So far, only person has complained about this scam to the Colorado Attorney General's Office. The Colorado Springs Police Department hasn't received any complaints.

Johnston of the BBB advises consumers to use the web search engine Google to check unusual and out-of-state phone numbers before calling back. She says some wireless providers can also add restrictions to your account to prevent third-party billing.

 

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