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BBB: Beware mystery calls

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Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning cellphone users to watch out for brief calls from international prefixes, such as 473 – which covers Grenada. In most cases reported so far, people’s cellphones ring once and then the call disconnects. Scammers are counting on people’s curiosity getting the best of them and hoping they’ll dial these numbers back, which are international calls that can lead to hefty charges. The best policy is to ignore calls from strange numbers and disregard the temptation to dial them back.

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“This scheme definitely plays on our natural curiosity,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “However, in this case, simple curiosity can get you into some trouble.”

Calls of this nature have hit nationwide. In most cases, the calls hang up before people can even answer. Or if people do answer, they hear moaning or a commotion of some kind and then the call disconnects. In either case, these calls leave their information on your caller ID.

Some people, believing the call is domestic, dial the number back. Reports indicate those calls are then routed to international adult entertainment or chat lines where charges can accumulate rapidly. The area code mentioned most often recently when it comes to this scheme is Grenada (473). Other international prefixes which might appear on caller IDs in situations like this originate from the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), and the British Virgin Islands (284). Recent reports indicate calls such as these are also originating from Antigua (268).

BBB advises people to watch their cellphone statements closely and to contact their carrier immediately if strange or unauthorized charges are noticed.

“This scam, like a lot of scams of this nature, will likely die down fairly quickly before popping up again in another form” added Badgerow.

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