'One Ring' scam could cost you

International rates applied to callers who answer phone, call back

Author: Kumasi Aaron, Reporter, weekend anchor, kaaron@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 30 2014 02:33:23 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 30 2014 08:08:51 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

You get a call from an international number you don't know. It only rings once, so you call back.

That call could cost you.

It's called the "One Ring" scam, and the Better Business Bureau is sending a warning about it to those in northeast Florida.

When you call the number back, the international rates are automatically applied and are as high as $10 a minute. That's why the BBB says if you get a call from an international number you don't recognize, don't answer and don't call back.

"I saw that it was a call from Antigua. It rang once. I said, 'I don't know anybody in Antigua,' so I hung up," Shannon Nelson said.

That decision may have saved her money.

Scammers are programming computers to send thousands of calls to random cellphone numbers, ring once and then hang up.

"So what they're trying to get you to do is make that phone call back where the charges are really, really expensive; $19.95 international collection fee plus $9 a minute after that," said Tom Stephens, president and CEO of the BBB serving Northeast Florida and the Southeast Atlantic.

He said the calls usually come from Caribbean countries like Barbados and Antigua, where companies are not regulated like they are here in the U.S.

And Stephens said the scammers try to keep you on the phone as long as possible.

"When you call, you're going to get a recording, you're going to get an advertisement, and before you know it you've been on the phone three or four minutes before you find out there's nothing there that you want to talk to and you've already spent $50, $60," Stephens said.

He said most phone providers will waive the charges if you answer the phone on that one ring. But if you call the number back, you may end up having to pay.

It's something Nelson said she's glad she doesn't have to worry about, but understands how things could easily be different.

"Yes it would be something easy to fall for because you think, 'OK, do I know somebody there somebody on vacation? Is this an emergency? Do I need to call back and see what happened?'" Nelson said.

The BBB in the northeast Florida area said it hasn't received any complaints about this scam yet, but it expects to see them once people receive their cellphone bills.

If you think you may have been a victim of this scam, the BBB says the sooner you bring the charges to your service provider, the better chance you have of getting those charges dismissed.