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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky State Police and the Better Business Bureau are warning cell phone users to be aware of a new scam called "The One-Ring Scam."
Better Business Bureaus (BBB) across the country are seeing a rash of reports of "ring and runs" on cell phones, where returning a missed call from an unknown number results in unauthorized charges on the user's account.
In a news release, KSP spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb says scammers profit from individuals who are curious enough to return that missed call.
Webb explained how it works: "A computer program originating outside the U.S. dials American customers and lets the phone ring one or two times before hanging up," says Webb. "This is enough time to register on a phone's missed-calls screen, but typically not enough time for a user to actually answer.
"Many people who receive a missed call will return the call and that is when their account is charged approximately $20 for the call and $9 for every additional minute."
According to a news release from the Better Business Bureau, this "One Ring Scam" is a part of a practice called phone cramming. Victims are subsequently billed not only for the incoming international call if they answer, but also the unwanted "premium service," which typically appears as a $19.95 charge on one's cell phone bill. In some cases, crammers may only put a small charge, so as not to arouse suspicion.
Most of the area codes are from the Caribbean Islands, but BBB officials say there is no way for them to really know where the calls are coming from.
Webb advises cell phone users to avoid returning calls they do not recognize.
"We are encouraging people to review their cell phone statements and contact their cellular carrier immediately if they notice unauthorized charges," adds Webb.
If you think you've fallen for the scam, BBB officials say you should immediately notify your cell phone provider and keep an eye on your phone bill. The earlier the fraud is documented, the better your chances for having some or all of the charges removed.
Also, if you are getting unwanted calls, contact your service provider to find out your options for blocking those numbers.
The following is a list of area codes the BBB said is connected with the scam: