Calls charge high connection, international fees
TULSA – Attorney General Mike Hunter today issued a consumer alert after a rash of scam phone calls from Sierra Leone have bludgeoned Oklahomans with Tulsa area codes.
Local authorities believe the calls are part of a scam known as a wangiri scam, or one ring phone scam, where an individual’s phone will only ring once in an attempt to get the individual to call the number back, resulting in charges for high international rates or connection fees.
The majority of the calls are showing up from the ‘232’ area code, the African nation of Sierra Leone.
Attorney General Hunter said while his office accepts consumer complaints on phone scams, they are extremely hard to trace.
“These types of scams are malicious and my office is urging Oklahomans to pay close attention to the calls they are receiving,” Attorney General Hunter said. “In addition to these scams charging high international and connection fees, the longer someone is on the phone, the more the scam call costs. My office gladly accepts consumer complaints. However, there is very little recourse we can take because these calls are hard to trace. The best thing Oklahomans can do is to not answer unknown numbers and not call the number back.
“Scam calls like this are why my office continues urging Congress and federal consumer protection agencies to take appropriate action to better protect citizens, who are being inundated by these calls. Without federal intervention to address this issue, we will continue to lose this fight.”
In March, Attorney General Hunter and 53 attorneys general from across the nation urged Congress to pass the TRACED Act, which would require service providers to adopt technology that verifies incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones. The legislation would also direct federal law enforcement agencies to form closer partnerships with state attorneys general to take more action.
Last October, Attorney General Hunter and 34 other attorneys general encouraged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new rules to allow telephone service providers to block robocalls.
Attorney General Hunter’s Consumer Protection Unit offers the following tips for individuals to avoid phone scams:
- Ignore numbers you don’t recognize;
- If you miss a call from an unknown number, do not call it back;
- If you do answer or call the number back, communicate with your phone company to get the charges waived;
- Remind elderly neighbors and loved ones, who are vulnerable to these types of scams of ways to avoid becoming a victim.
If Oklahomans receive unsolicited calls, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the FCC at: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us. Individuals are also encouraged to file a complaint with the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit at: http://www.oag.ok.gov/consumer-protection-unit1.