Consumer Alert: 'One-ring' cell phone call scam

Consumer Alert: 'One-ring' cell phone call scam

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WASHINGTON -

This week is National Consumer Protection Week and there is a scam in the works that is affecting millions of people. It's called the “one-ring” call scam.

Your phone rings and a number pops up you don't recognize. It rings only once. And now you're curious.

“It's just using people's natural curiosity to get them to call a number,” said Susan Grant with the Consumer Federation of America.

She says calling that number back could get you into trouble.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the “one-ring” cell phone scam is growing nationwide, affecting up to one million Americans a day.

Here's how it works: scammers auto-dial cell phones across the country at random. The calls are from area codes that include: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

“It could look just like a U.S. number,” said Grant.

But it actually may be coming from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands or Grenada.

When you call back, a message says you have reached an operator -- please hold.

In some cases, the calls go to adult entertainment or other expensive services.

The Washington state attorney general reported that victims were charged $19.95 for an international call and $9 a minute.

There are apps to help protect you from scams: White Pages Current Caller ID and Truecaller are just a few of them.

Truecaller is one of the most widely used with 50 million users worldwide. It has successfully created the world's largest crowdsourced spam caller list.

“We actually report numbers as spam or we can tag information to make our users more comfortable in taking the right call,” said Truecaller CEO Alan Mamedi.

The bottom line is this: don't call numbers you don't recognize.

“If it's somebody who legitimately was trying to reach you, they'll try again,” said Grant.

If you get one of these calls, try googling the number to see if it's suspicious. There is no danger in getting the call. The danger is in calling back and racking up a big bill.

If you have been a victim of the "one-ring" scam, try to resolve the charges with your cellphone carrier. If that doesn't work, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

As a general rule, always go over your phone bill.

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