When your phone rings and you miss the call, do you call back to see who it was?
Con artists know a lot of us will do that, and they're using this curiosity factor to cram unauthorized charges onto people's phone bills.
The Better Business Bureau recently issued a fraud alert for the "one ring scam" after being contacted by people all across the country. Here's how it works.
The scammers use automatic dialers to randomly call phone numbers. After the first ring, they disconnect. The bad guys hope you'll see that number in your missed call log and be curious enough to return it.
Make that call and they've got you.
You'll be connected to an expensive international hotline—usually an "adult entertainment" service—that charges as much as $19.95 as soon as you connect. There may also be a sizable per-minute fee. Those costs typically show up on your phone bill as "premium services."
(Read more: Identity theft rises as crooks get more creative)
Katherine Hutt, director of communications at the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said this "ring and run" scam is highly effective because it's so simple.
"No one would ever imagine they'd be charged as much as $20 to make a phone call," Hutt said. There's no warning message about the charges, and there's nothing that indicates that the area code you're dialing is for the Caribbean Islands."
Those area codes include Antigua (268), British Virgin Islands (284), Dominican Republic (809), Grenada (473), Jamaica (876) and Turks & Caicos Islands (649).