The Better Business Bureau is warning Minnesotans to be on the lookout for a new phone scam that is hitting close to home and is called the "473 One Ring Scam."
There are plenty of fraudsters who use phones to try to get people to send them money, but this latest variation adds an additional twist. Victims will see a missed call on their phone and then call back to find out who contacted them only to end up paying them money without realizing it until the phone bill comes the next month.
"People were really concerned about mystery charges on their cell phone bill," Dan Hendrickson of the BBB explained.
After the first of the year, customers in North Dakota started noticing some odd numbers showing up in his call logs -- mostly missed calls that started with a 473 area code.
"Bottom line is: If you see that 473 prefix on your caller ID, be careful," Hendrickson recommends. "It looks like a local number -- 473. Unfortunately, that's the prefix for Grenada, an international phone call. That can lead to big charges on your cell phone bill.
Some one-ring phone calls could also be coming from a 268 area code.
The strategy is called "cramming," and is employed by third parties that add unauthorized charges on a wireless bill -- and Minnesotans are being targeted.
"It's usually between 11 and 1," Laura Lefebre said. "I get a random call from an area code or phone number I don't recognize."
The charges often show up as a "premium service" for $19.95, but there is a solid strategy to avoid the fraudulent billing -- don't answer and don't call back.
"If curiosity gets the best of you and you call that number back, it's going to be the kind of thing where they're going to try and keep you on the line for as long as possible to rack up the charges," Hendrickson said.
Federal agencies have reviewed thousands of complaints regarding the calls, and investigators believe robo-call software is being used to focus on different areas of the country.