If you miss a call from somewhere in the Caribbean Islands, don't call back. A national cell phone scam called the "One Ring Scam" has hit Southeast Texas.
It's called one ring because the phone barely rings before it's disconnected. The scammer on the other end waits until the recipient returns the missed call, then hits them with charges.
Phone owners who fall victim face at least $30.00 in unwanted charges on their wireless bills; a $19.95 connection fee and an additional $9.00 a minute as they wait for someone to answer. The phone numbers all seem to originate from somewhere in the Caribbean and so far include:
Grenada (area code 473)
Antigua or Barbuda (area code 268),
Jamaica (area code 876)
British Virgin Islands (284)
Dominican Republic (area code 809)
Communications Director for Better Business Bureau of Southeast Texas, Debbie Bridgeman, said they have sent out warnings because so many people in the area have been affected. She also said the best way to avoid the charge, is not to answer the calls.
"When you don't know the number don't pick it up," she said. "We know curiosity kills the cat and we want to know who's calling us, but that's the problem we call back... if its that important they will leave a message."
The calls aren't suspicious to most because the countries the numbers are coming from use a one in front of the area code just like the United States.
People of all ages have fallen victim to the scam, but there are ways to prevent it from happening.
"Really know your phone bill, research it, call your carrier and ask them to put restrictions so you can't get these international calls," Bridgeman said.
A web search on suspicious numbers can also be helpful, since others who have experienced the scam may be talking about it online. Also, most smart phones have a call block feature or the option to download one.
If it's too late, most providers will reverse the charges the first time it happens.