New phone scam targets major carriers

(WISH Photo, file)
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While Indiana’s recent weather pattern may have you dreaming of warmer Caribbean climates, calls to your cell phone that appear to be coming from countries like Antigua, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic aren’t from travel agents, they’re part of a growing phone scam.

The scam, dubbed “the one ring scam” by the Better Business Bureau, has spread nationally and through parts of central Indiana in the past two weeks, according to Tim Maniscalo, the president and CEO of the BBB’s Central Indiana office.

Major carriers like Verizon Wireless confirmed to 24-Hour News 8 and I-Team 8 that company representatives are well aware of the problem and that it’s triggered a so-called “trouble ticket,”  a notification alert informing company employees and customer services representatives that this particular scam is spreading.

Here’s how it works: the phone call appears to come from an out-of-town area code or from an international destination. The phone usually rings only once before alerting the cell user of a missed call. According to the BBB, because cellphone plans are billed through automation and usage from both incoming and outgoing calls, the scammers are hoping cellphone users will pick up or call back. Doing so could result in a premium rate fee or international call charge that could run upwards of $20.

Tim Maniscalo with the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana called this particular scam “pervasive.”

“What we’ve seen that it is pretty widespread,” Maniscalo said. “We have a pretty robust system where people report things and we’ve seen a number of these from across the country.”

The BBB says the scammers count on the fact that consumers don’t always check their bills closely. Maniscalo recommends that if you receive one of the calls, don’t answer it.

Many residents in downtown Indianapolis and IUPUI’s campus were unaware of the scam when approached by I-Team 8. Others said if they do receive a bizarre phone calls from unfamiliar numbers, they simply ignore them.

“I saw it on Facebook this morning. It’s crazy. I can’t believe they can charge you for something you don’t even know about,” said Brittany Goldman, an IUPUI student.

The Better Business Bureau recommends taking the following steps should you receive one of these calls:
–          Don’t answer it
–          Call your cell provider or carrier
–          Check your bill for unusual charges or fees

The Indiana Attorney General’s office told I-Team 8 that it is aware of this issue, but that as of Thursday, no complaints had been registered with the consumer protection division.

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