Don't know who's calling? Experts say don't pick up.

By  | 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) - Returning a phone call from an unknown area code could jack up your cell phone bill.
The Federal Trade Commission is warning people not to answer or return calls from these nine area codes: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.
They call it the ‘one-ring cell phone scam’. You get a call from an unknown number, with one of those area codes. It rings once, and then they hang up, hoping you'll call back.
You might not realize it, but the call is international, and as soon as you call back, your cell phone bill starts going up.
Trevor Hermanson, an Advanced Repair Agent for Geek Squad, said, “I actually just screen the calls. So if there’s a random number that comes to my phone, and they don’t leave a voicemail, it wasn’t important enough to take. Just completely ignore it.”
He says it’s hard to prevent spammers from getting your phone number.
“I mean, they pull phone numbers from the internet... You don’t really have any control over that, unfortunately. I mean, the best way against it would be to just not put your phone number online. But anytime you try to purchase something, it makes you do it,” he said.
But he says if you keep getting calls from the same foreign number, you can just block the caller.
“Just block it right then and there, it takes 2-3 seconds tops,” he said.
We also talked to Jason Mohler, a partner at Wireless Trendz in Springfield. He says he’s familiar with the ‘one-ring’ phone scam.
“It’s been going on for a little bit, but I think there’s been a resurgence again,” he explained.
He recommends asking your provider to see if there are any settings that can protect you from this scam.
“You can block international phone calls, so that may be an option also. Check with your carrier. Some of them have a phone setting, where you can do that,” said Mohler.
Experts we spoke with say anytime you’re unsure about a phone number, you can just enter it into a search engine. But, Hermanson says use caution.
“That’ll kind of figure out where it’s at. I would be really cautious with that, because once you Google the number, I mean, they can scam you on that back end. If you click link in Google, it might take you somewhere that you don’t want to go,” he said.
If you're being targeted, you can report the scammer to the FTC. Look for the link in the sidebar to the FTC’s website.
Also, if you're worried you've already fallen for this scam, go over your phone bill line by line. Make sure there aren't any changes for international phone calls that you didn't intend to make.