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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 17, 2014

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If an unknown number calls and hangs up after one ring, don't call back. It could cost you.
If an unknown number calls and hangs up after one ring, don't call back. It could cost you. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Don't fall for the "One Ring" cell phone scam

Word to the wise: If your cell phone receives a one-ring phone call from a number you do not recognize, do NOT call the number back to inquire about who was calling you.

The Better Business Bureau serving Wisconsin is warning cell phone users about a new scam that can result in unauthorized charges appearing on monthly wireless statements.

It's called the "One Ring" scam because the scammers program computers to send thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers, ring once and then disconnect. The scammers then hope you are curious enough about the phone call that you return the call right away.

When the cell phone owner returns the call, they are charged $19.95 for an international call fee. After that, there is a $9 per minute call charge. It’s reported that often the callers will first hear music followed by advertising. So, the charges quickly add up.

Consumers who have been duped by these calls report that they are coming from the Caribbean Islands including Grenada, Antigua, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands.

I received one of these calls on my cell phone Tuesday. The number that called my phone was (209) 208-6144. After the BBB put out its warning about the "One Ring" scam, I did a Google search for that number, and it turned up multiple reports that it indeed was one of these scams.

That reminded me of the time my wife and I were attending a conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I began receiving phone calls from friends back in Milwaukee, asking me if we were OK. Someone or thing had hacked my former MSN Hotmail account and had sent out messages to friends in my address book, telling them that my wife had been attacked while we were traveling out of the country, and that I needed some emergency funds get her out of the hospital and return to the United States. This was especially troublesome to friends and family who knew we really were out of the country at the time they received the bogus e-mail.

If you think you may have fallen for a phone scam, the BBB recommends that you should immediately alert your cell phone carrier and keep an eye on your cell phone bill.

To be as safe as possible, the BBB recommends the best thing to do if your phone rings and it's a number you don't recognize, don't answer it and don't call back.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at wisconsin.bbb.org.

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