(Sen. Don Gustavson) – Your cell phone rings. You fumble for it. A strange number disconnects after the first ring before you can answer. You turn red with anger and dial the number back to let them know you don’t appreciate being annoyed, only to be connected to an auto-voice asking you to please hold. Eventually you hang up. Days later you receive your statement and turn red with embarrassment when you discover you’ve been dinged with immense international phone charges.
The FTC announced last month that this practice is growing, and KLAS Channel 8 reports that many inquisitive Nevadans have already become prey after dialing back only to be connected to an costly adult entertainment line.
Dubbed the “one-ring” cell phone scam, the 3-digit area codes appear innocent although they originate from an off-shore island for the most part. Most smart phones have the ability to block individual phone numbers but many of these calls originate from a auto-dialer which accommodate many trunks, increasing the chance of getting bothered by the same scammer again. The obvious fix would be to block the entire area code from an island you don’t expect to get calls from (unless you’re a frequent Jamaican lottery winner, for instance).
Unfortunately for the popular iPhone that feature is unavailable and an Apple tech tells me there is no fix on the horizon just yet. Android on the other hand has downloadable apps that will filter calls based on area codes you decide. If you have discovered any useful smart phone apps for blocking off-shore area codes, please let me know and I’ll pass that info along to my newsletter subscribers.
Meanwhile, just remember that curiosity killed the cat. Disputing any charges with your carrier will likely prove difficult because you are responsible for numbers that you personally dialed. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t return the call because you cannot be charged for a call that you don’t answer or return.
(Sen. Gustavson is a Republican state senator representing District 14 in northern Nevada)