Feb 052014

PhoneScam234234234234_8979Cell phone users are being warned to think twice before answering any suspicious calls from the Caribbean Islands.

According to the Better Business Bureau, a new “one ring” scam is giving phone owners unauthorized charges on their wireless bills. The calls may come from Antigua, Jamaica, Grenada and any other Caribbean Islands and that the phone rings only one time before disconnecting.

If a customer calls back the number displayed, the BBB details that the caller will then be charged $19.95 for an international call fee and an additional $9-per-minute charge. Users reporting the scam to the BBB have said the calls normally come from outside the U.S. To protect yourself, the BBB encourages consumers not to answer calls from unknown, out-of-state numbers. But if you do answer the phone, they recommend not to call it back if the call disconnects.

From the Snopes Website

Other versions of the warning caution that cell phone owners who return one-ring calls are charged $19.95 for an “international call fee” and then a “$9.00 per minute charge” on top of that. BUT Sprint currently lists its standard rate for placing calls from U.S. cell phones to the countries mentioned in the above example (Belarus and Latvia) at between $2.65 and $2.69 per minute (and as low as $0.41 to $0.43 per minute if the caller subscribes to an international long-distance plan), so a victim who returned such a call and stayed on the line for a couple of minutes before hanging up might realistically be out $5 or so in toll charges.

Phone customers can generally get any “premium service” (i.e., “international call fee”) charges tacked on to such a call reversed by contacting their phone service providers and documenting the circumstances of the call. Many forms of this warning list specific country/area codes that phone users should never place calls to (because of their association with various phone scams), including 473 (Grenada), 268 (Antigua), 876 (Jamaica), 809 (the Dominican Republic), 375 (Belarus), 371 (Latvia), and 284 (the British Virgin Islands).

There is, of course, nothing wrong with connecting to numbers with these country/area codes if you happen to know whom you’re calling: all cautions regarding the one-ring scam (and similar schemes) apply only to solicitations to contact entities unknown to you. If you have to call a number associated with a dialing code that’s unfamiliar to you, you can use a code lookup site to check it out first.

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