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An expensive phone call

Princeton Police warn of ‘one ring scams’

Published: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 2:56 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 3:00 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — For those who may have missed a call from an unknown number and the caller didn’t leave a message, you might want to think twice about calling that number back.

Princeton Police Department recently sent out a press release warning residents of the “one ring scam.”

The Better Business Bureau has issued a fraud alert for this scam, after being contacted by people from all across the county.

The scammers use automatic dialers to randomly call phone numbers. After the first ring, they disconnect. The caller hopes the person sees the number in their missed call log and is curious enough to return the call.

When a caller dials the number back, they’ve fallen for the scam. There has reportedly been instances where people are connected to an expensive international hotline that charges as much as $19.95 as soon as the call is connected.

In some incidents, there have been sizable per-minute fees charged, as well. The costs typically show up on the phone bill as “premium services.”

Princeton Police Chief Tom Root confirmed there has not yet been reports of local residents becoming victims of the one ring scam, however, he’s been hearing of the scams happening in other areas and wants to give residents a heads up. He reminds residents not to pick-up the call if they don’t know the caller, or the area code where the number is coming from.

Root said it the call is important, the caller will leave a voicemail. He also reminded residents to never give out personal information to unknown callers and to report any suspicious behavior to police.

In some reported cases, a caller answers the call to music and a recording that says, “hold for operator.” The Better Business Bureau reported this is a common trick to keep callers on the line as long as possible in order to rack up additional per-minute charges.

People with mobile devices are the prime targets for the one ring scam because every cell phone has caller ID and a missed call log. Since long-distance calls are typically free with wireless plans, most people don’t think about placing a call to another area code that appears to be in the United States.

People who may be getting suspicious calls can “Google” the number to check the area code and see if there are any scam reports on the number.

The Better Business Bureau said if someone falls for the scam, contact the cell provider as soon as possible and watch for future phone bills for unauthorized charges. It’s also recommended that people file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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