One phone call could cost you big time

Screening your calls has never been more important because the next time you pick up or call back a number you don’t recognize, it could cost you.

A phone scam has spread across the country and arrived in Western New York. Peggy Penders with the Better Business Bureau is warning cell phone users to not call back unrecognized numbers.

“We’ve gotten calls every day about this,” she said. “Oftentimes these calls are repeated again and again and again, really trying to get you to pick up that phone.”

Here’s how the scam works: You’ll receive a call. The phone will ring once and then disconnect. The scammer is relying on your curiosity to call back and that’s when you’ll be hit with a charge.

Penders said, “If you do call back, you’re going to be charged for that international call. You may even be signed up for a premium service, which could hit your cell phone bill at about $20 a month.”

She says the area codes are typically from the Caribbean.

“We’re really advising you not to call; you just have to learn to ignore it,” said Penders.

While there usually won’t be anyone on the other end, Penders says that’s not always the case.

She explained, “We have heard from consumers, when they have called back, they are hearing adult entertainment, which is really a scammer’s way to keep you on the line longer.”

So how are they able to get your money?

“They’re using your cell phone bill, just like they would a credit card statement. They’re charging you for fees and activities that you did not authorize. Now you’re responsible for those. Unless you catch it, and if you do catch it you can report it to your carrier,” Penders said.

She adds it’s important that you contact your cell phone carrier within 60 days. That’s typically the amount of time given to dispute charges.

The scam typically is seen with cell phones, but can also affect landlines.

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