When a St. Louis woman missed answering a call after a single ring, the number displayed on her cell phone was one she didn’t recognize. She didn’t even recognize the area code. A notation on her phone indicated the call was from Grenada, an island in the Caribbean.
She was worried she was missing an important call, so she thought about calling back. Her husband warned her against it, and he was right.
If she had called back, she probably would have been put on hold for several minutes. Even if she hung up, when she got her cell phone bill, there would be an unusual charge on the bill.
If she’d called, she would have been crammed. Cramming is the practice of putting unauthorized charges on a victim’s phone bill. In the one-ring scam, the caller is hoping the victim will call back immediately, not realizing that there’s a charge just for calling the number.
The one-ring call scam has been sweeping the country in recent months, but it’s a problem that’s been around for years. The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission have received thousands of complaints about cramming, which can affect land-line as well as cell phones.
Victims have said the calls appear to be coming from Caribbean countries, and from area codes including 268, 274, 473, 809 and 876. Calling those numbers triggers an international call charge, and the scammers also charge victims high rates – sometimes as much as $9 a minute – for as long as they’re on the call. Thus the long hold times listening to music.
Similar calls also have come from numbers within the United States, according to some organizations.
Today’s BBB press release has tips on how to avoid these unwanted charges and how to minimize fraud on your mobile phone.