Action Line: Beware the one-ring cell phone scheme

A new cell phone scheme that first popped up on the mainland has now made its way to Hawaii.

In the one-ring phone scheme, a computer makes thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers by ringing just once, enough to leave a missed call on the phone. It preys on people’s curiosity – they call back not knowing the number they’re calling is an international one.

“These numbers usually originate from out of the country and when you call, on your phone bill, what’s is going to happen is that there is going to be a charge for some type of adult service entertainment,” said Timothy Caminos from Hawaii Better Business Bureau.

That costly call ultimately shows up as a $9 charge on your phone bill, but can vary anywhere between $7 and $12.

The Better Business Bureau says if you don’t recognize the number on your phone, especially if it’s a long distance one, don’t call back.

“It happens even locally all the time, where someone calls me, and I may be interested and say, ‘Hey who’s that? Maybe I’ll call them back,’” Caminos said. “It’s just a part of human nature.”

You can go online and look up the number since there are websites that warn people about fake phone numbers and monitor your phone bill.

“The best thing to do is contact your phone service provider and ask them how is the best way to get reimbursed for that money,” Caminos said.

But beware. Experts say con artists may also start using local phone numbers as a way to disguise any suspicion.

It’s always tough and we hate to tell people never call anyone back if you don’t know the number, but we want to be cautious, especially when we’re calling back to numbers we don’t know,” Caminos said.

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