8 On Your Side digs in to 'one ring' scam - WFLA News Channel 8

8 On Your Side digs in to 'one ring' scam

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) - 8 On Your Side is now digging deeper into the "one ring scam" recently brought to light from the Better Business Bureau. 

A Lakeland woman says she's experiencing more problems after falling victim to it.

"I've started getting calls over and over again with restricted numbers," said Ethel Brown. "I feel like they're trying to get me to do something I don't want to do and they're trying to get money from me somehow through these calls."

The bombardment of dozens of calls a day comes after Ethel returned a call from an unknown number. It was from the 473 area code, the island of Grenada in the south Caribbean. She immediately hung up but still was charged $1.69.

As it turns out, Ethel was probably one of the lucky ones.

"What the scammer's trying to do is generate curiosity," said Bryan Oglesby, Director of Business Relations for West Florida's Better Business Bureau. "They want you to call that phone number back that's unknown and when you do, you're going to incur charges for that."

Oglesby and the BBB are warning consumers about the problem in several states where consumers report getting calls on their cell phones from unknown numbers.

"It's very similar to calling a 900 number," Oglesby said. "You can be charged up-front fees as much as $19... and then they try to keep you on the phone - keep you on hold. You hear music and they can charge you as much as $9 a minute."

The area codes that appear on the caller ID often originate from the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), British Virgin Islands (284) and Grenada (473), according to the Better Business Bureau.

"The key is educating consumers... making sure they know when they receive this call to not return the phone call," Oglesby said. "If the number's unknown, you can easily look it up, search it on Google, find out where the number's coming from and just be aware. Do not call back numbers that are unknown."

Oglesby suggests speaking with a representative from your carrier.

"You can ask them to block third party calls," he said. "See if that's a service they can provide to you."

Many cell companies allow you to block a certain amount of phone numbers for a period of time for free, but some victims are complaining the numbers are coming from different ones each time.

Some carriers allow you to block private numbers (those with no caller ID like Ethel is experiencing), but it often comes with a small monthly fee (around $5.00). You should call your individual carrier for details.

Now the question is: did somebody distribute Ethel's number after she made that initial call overseas? She and her husband are both on state and federal do not call lists, yet the barrage of private numbers continues to come in.

"It's a big frustration," she said. "I resent the intrusion on my privacy on my phone. My phone is for my use to call my friends and my family."

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