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N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper warns of 'one-ring scam'

Scammers are computer dialing thousands of phones across the country, attempting to get unsuspecting consumers to return the calls, which result in huge bills.
Scammers are computer dialing thousands of phones across the country, attempting to get unsuspecting consumers to return the calls, which result in huge bills.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Crooks have launched a scam that uses computers to place calls to thousands of phones, ending the call after one ring and causing many people to return the call and trigger huge charges, the N.C. attorney general's office warned today.

According to N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper's office, the scammers' one-ring calls show up as missed calls on people's phones. Many victims have returned the phone calls, connecting to an adult entertainment line and resulting in charges of $19.95 plus $9 per minute.

The missed calls usually come from area codes in the Caribbean such as 473, 809, 284, 649 or 876. The scammers have targeted phones nationwide, prompting alerts from various consumer groups, such as the Better Business Bureau. The practice of third parties adding unauthorized charges to a customer's mobile phone bill is commonly referred to as "cramming."

To protect yourself from the one-ring scam, avoid returning phone calls to unfamiliar numbers. If you're curious about a phone number that called you, Google it to find out if others have had calls from the same number and to see where the area code is located.

You should delete the phone number from your recent calls list to avoid accidentally calling it. Consumer advocates advise that you check your phone bills closely to make sure you didn't get billed for a scam phone call. If you do get billed for such a call, you should report it to your mobile phone carrier.

North Carolina residents who believe they've been the victim of a one-ring scam and have trouble getting charges removed from their bills can call 877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.