Because of a new telephone scam that’s making the rounds across the nation, the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region is advising the public to not answer or return telephone calls of unknown numbers.
In a news release, the BBB explains how the scam works: “The cellphone rings and a number appears on the phone. Before you answer it, it hangs up. The number is typically a three-digit area code that looks like a U.S. number. Curiosity gets the best of you, and so you dial the number back.”
“When you call back, you’re automatically routed to an international adult entertainment or chat line in a non-U.S. location, where you can quickly incur expensive charges,” stated Robb Hicken, whose official title with BBB is “chief storyteller.”
In an interview Monday, Hicken said the point of the scam is to keep a caller on the telephone as long as possible.
“The longer you stay on the line, the more you get billed,” Hicken said, adding that the scammers get a consumer’s money by the “service provider on their end billing your service provider who then bills you.”
He said what appear to be normal U.S. area codes are actually international numbers. He said consumers should be particularly wary of 809, which is for the Dominican Republic, 876, for Jamaica, 284, for British Virgin Islands and 473, Granada.
“We’ve seen a lot of it in eastern Idaho now and it’s got us rather concerned,” Hicken said. “The key is don’t answer or return numbers you don’t know. You don’t need to answer the phone if you get a number you don’t know.”
Hicken said the calls to consumers are generated by computers that select telephone numbers at random. The scam is referred to as “mobile cramming.”