NORFOLK-Has this happened to you? Your cell phone rings and when you go to pick it up, it's already disconnected. In fact, it rang only once.
You think of calling the number to see who was trying to reach you, but think again. That curiosity could cost you a lot of money.
Consumer agencies are warning of what they call the "One-Ring Phone Scam."
Here's how it works: Computers are programmed to call random cell phone numbers, ring once and then disconnect. When you call back, you're sent to a paid international adult entertainment service, 'chat' line, or other premium service located outside the country. You're charged a $19.95 international call fee plus per-minute charges, which can be $9.00 or more.
Calls typically originate from outside the United States, which is a practice of third parties placing unauthorized charges on wireless accounts is called "cramming."
According to the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have reviewed thousands of complaints about the practice, and expect the problem to grow.
Tips to avoid the "One-Ring Phone Scam" from the BBB:
-If you don't recognize an out-of-state telephone number on your caller ID, ignore it
-If you do answer, do not call back
-Check cell phone bills and tell your carrier of any unauthorized charges. The earlier you document the fraud, the better your chances of having some or all of the charges removed.
-See if you can add restrictions to stop third-party billing on your account.
In some cases, a small charge of several dollars may appear, making it so it won't arouse suspicion.