There seems to be no end to the number of ways in which scammers will try to rob unsuspecting individuals of their money. One popular method relies on your natural curiosity to stick you with a hefty phone bill.
The scammers use an automatic dialer to call your cell phone. Instead of waiting for you to answer, they hang up after the first or second ring. This is just long enough for a message to pop up alerting you to a missed call. The goal is not to talk to you but for you to see the message and call them back. When you dial the number, you are greeted with a message that you have reached an operator and to please hold, which most people will do out of curiosity. Lo and behold, on your next bill you see an outrageous charge for a call at per-minute international rates.
The danger, in this case, is not in receiving the call but in answering it. The phone numbers will typically show up on caller ID with what appears to be a U.S. area code; however, they are actually international numbers originating in the Caribbean. The most common area codes associated with the scam include 268, 473, 284, 849, 876, 767, 809, 664, 829, and 649.
It is a good practice to never answer or return a call from an unfamiliar number. If the call is important, the caller will leave a message to allow you to determine if it is legitimate. There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself from phone scammers:
• add unknown numbers to your blocked caller or auto-reject list,
• add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry, and
• check online directories to see who is calling.
Finally, take the time to review your phone bill carefully. Be sure to contact your carrier immediately if you see anything suspicious.