LITTLE ROCK — Curiosity may prove to be costly for consumers in an emerging scam that has targeted thousands of people across the country.
Known as the “one-ring” scam, it’s identified as such because con artists use automated, random telephone dialers to call phones and hang up after one ring. The scam artists hope that curious consumers will then dial the number displayed on their missed call messages and be stuck with excessive charges as a result.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to provide Arkansans with details about the scam and to let consumers know how to protect themselves against it.
“Almost all of us have missed a call from an unrecognized number and wondered what the call was about,” McDaniel said. “Lately, some calls have only been about one thing: Taking money from unsuspecting victims. If the number is unfamiliar, it is always best to delete the number and forget about it. If the call was important, the caller will leave a message or call back.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the one-ring calls originate from phone numbers with a three-digit area code so that a consumer’s initial belief is that the number is from the United States. That’s not the case with these calls, though. The area codes are actually associated with international phone numbers, most often from nations in the Caribbean. The federal agency said area codes used in the scam have been 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.
If a consumer calls the number back, they can expect to be assessed fees for international calling, as well as expensive per-minute charges. Some numbers involved in the scam are associated with an adult entertainment line and an automatic $19.95 charge is triggered when a consumer calls. Others may connect to an automated message that asks a consumer to hold for an operator, while being charged heftily in the process.
McDaniel urged consumers not to answer such calls and never call the number back. Consumers do not face any fees if they choose not to answer. The only time a consumer would face a charge is if he were to call the unrecognized number.
McDaniel also advised consumers to:
• Review every phone bill thoroughly and immediately report any unauthorized or suspicious charges to the service provider. Ask for the charges to be removed from the bill.
• File a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) or the Federal Communications Commission (www.fcc.gov) if the consumer is a victim of the scam.
• Do an online search for the unrecognized number. Online directories will identify where a particular phone number is registered and whether the area code is from outside the United States.
For more information about this or other consumer issues, contact the Consumer Protection Division at 800-482-8982 or visit the division’s website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.