If the phone rings once and disconnects, don't call back, especially if you don't recognize the number. It's probably a scam and could cost you.
Local police departments are warning residents to beware of the “one-ring” scam that is currently surfacing in the south suburbs.
Criminals target victims simply by calling them on their phones, which ring once and then disconnect. Unsuspecting recipients’ natural curiosity is piqued and they call back.
Sometimes the caller will let the phone ring until the victim answers, after which, the caller or robocaller makes groaning noises as if in distress, before disconnecting.
The “one ring” or “ring and run” scam has been covered in Forbes and other news outlets. The Better Business Bureau reports that the one-ring scam is getting worse, with cell phone users across the United States being targeted.
Snopes.com, the debunker of all urban myths, verifies the one-ring scam’s veracity.
In south suburban Palos Park residents have reported receiving the suspicious phone calls within the past month. Other residents throughout the area may have received a one-ring call, not realizing it was a scam.
The phone fraud's latest surfacing started on the West Coast in the late December, and appears to be working its east.
“A victim brought it to our attention,” Police Chief Joe Miller said. “He works in the computer field and realized what it was, and forwarded it to us.”
While mostly cell phone users are being targeted, Miller said that an elderly woman from Palos Park got hit on her land line.
“She realized its was a scam,” he said.
Programmed computers are generating the robocalls at a rate of 2,000 per hour. The fraudsters make their money by recipients returning missed phone calls.
The calls typically originate from the 473 area code in Grenada, Other area codes being used in the scam include the Dominican Republic (809), the British Virgin Isles (284), Jamaica (876) and Antigua (268).
Consumers who can’t resist the urge to call back a missed number are seeing charges of $9.94 on their monthly statements, fees that can easily be overlooked.
The best way to protect yourself is by not calling back any number you don’t reconize and checking your monthly statements carefully, the Better Business Bureau advises.
Report any fraudulent charges to your phone carrier. The earlier they are detected, the better your chances of having them removed.
“If it’s unknown, leave it alone,” the BBB says.
Cell phone service providers urge customers to contact them in their stores, online, or at these numbers:
- Verizon: 800-922-0204
- AT&T: 800-331-0500
- Sprint: 888-226-7212