Do yourself a favor and don’t return that ‘one ring’ call

Created date

June 28th, 2019
A sign features the words Scam Alert

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is alerting consumers that waves of “one ring” or “Wangiri” (Japanese for “one ring and drop”) robocalls are going out in waves targeting specific area codes in bursts frequently calling a single number repeatedly in the middle of the night. 

Fearing the worst, many consumers who receive these calls believe a loved one in need is attempting to reach them. And given that the calls come in the middle of the night, it’s easy to understand why many people fear that some kind of emergency prompted the call.

Those who attempt to call the number back are likely to hear a message asking them to hold. What they don’t hear—and what they won’t discover until they get a bill from their telephone service—is that the number they called was an international phone number, often from the Caribbean or West Africa. 

Consumers who check their telephone bills find that they were charged an exorbitant “connection fee” along with substantial per-minute fees. 

The calls are often from 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849, and 876 area codes. One giveaway is that sometimes these types of international numbers are preceded by an “a +.”

This list is by no means complete and scammers are experts at changing their numbers, names, and locales quickly to elude authorities.

To protect yourself, don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize and, above all, don’t return calls to unfamiliar numbers. 

For those who are extra curious, you can try to do an Internet search of the number that appeared on your caller ID. Odds are you’ll find that many other Internet users have received similar calls from the same number and have flagged the number for the benefit of others. 

On your phone bill

What makes this scam even worse is that consumers don’t even know they’ve been scammed until they get their phone bill. And sadly, these days many people don’t take the time to carefully review each line of their phone bills. Don’t make that mistake.

Many carriers offer their customers the option of blocking outgoing international calls on their mobile phones to prevent unintentional international dialing. If you never need to make international calls, this would be a good way to protect yourself from getting scammed.

If you find a strange charge on your phone bill, call your carrier. Explain the issue and try to get them to issue you a credit or at the very least investigate the charge. 

If you have been the victim of a “one ring” scam, file a complaint with the FCC at
consumercomplaints.fcc.gov and with the FTC at
ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

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