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Cell phones are target of one-ring scam

Consumer advocates are warning cell phone owners of a scam that leads them to an adult-oriented or other costly service and international call fees.

The Better Business Bureau says customers are lured in by a call that disconnects after only one ring. Phone customers concerned they missed something return the call and are automatically routed to the adult chat line or another premium service located outside the country.

The caller is billed $19.95 for placing an international call, plus charges for the line itself, which can be $9 or more per minute.

The practice is known as "cramming."

Stephanie Vinge, a spokeswoman for Sprint, said the best way to avoid cramming scams is not to return calls to unknown numbers. Sprint also offers its customers online tips on preventing fraudulent billing and cram calls.

"If you think you have been victimized, call your provider immediately," Vinge said. "We have protocols in place where we can assist in investigating instances of possible cramming."

The Better Business Bureau warning says the calls typically originate from outside the United States. The overseas area codes come up on caller ID include the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), British Virgin Islands (284) and Grenada (473).

In addition to ignoring calls from unknown numbers, the Better Business Bureau recommends customers check cell phone bills carefully and contact the provider if there are any unauthorized charges.

"The earlier you document the fraud, the better your chances of having some or all of the charges removed," the Better Business Bureau said in a news release.


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