MADISON, Wis. - Tara Nelson heard her phone ring on Sunday and checked the caller ID. Not recognizing the number and never having seen the area code before, she did more than simply not answer the call.
She searched the number on Google.
"As soon as I saw the headline, 'Police warn against phone scam from 473 area code,' it flipped the switch that this was not right," she said.
Law enforcement authorities in states like Utah and Idaho are warning their residents against what's being called the "473 scam." People who have answered calls from that area code report hearing moaning or groaning before the line goes dead. When they call back, they are automatically charged $19.95 as the number operates like a 1-900 number.
The 473 area code is located in the Caribbean nation of Grenada.
"People, I think are becoming more cautious but there are those who aren't," Nelson said. "It'd be pretty easy to hear your phone ring, pick it up and answer it. I'm hoping people are becoming more aware they shouldn't be doing those things but there are always those who aren't."
Kimberly Hazen, who runs the southwest chapter of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau, said the only way you know who you're talking to on the phone is if you initiate the call and know who you're calling.
"We're seeing curiosity getting the best of us and we're calling a number back we shouldn't be calling," she said. "If you don't know who you're calling, you shouldn't call because it could be a paid call. You could be socked with a $19.95 on your phone bill."
Nelson has her own advice.
"I don't answer calls from unknown numbers," she said. "The more you know, the better."
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