Illegal robocallers have a new trick: Calling your phone and quickly hanging up, which they hope will prompt your curiosity and cause you to call the number back. Federal telecommunications regulators are warning that when you do place the return call, you may be connected to a 900 number that charges hefty by-the-minute fees. Or you may be calling an international number, which could tack additional charges onto your phone bill.
The Federal Trade Commission is warning people about this latest fraudulent antic, calling it the “one-ring scam.” Officials suggest that you do not call back unrecognized numbers to avoid being scammed.
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These one-ring calls may appear to be from phone numbers in the United States because there are several three-digit country codes that resemble U.S. area codes. For example, the FTC warns, “809” goes to the Dominican Republic and “649” dials the Turks and Caicos. Also, savvy scammers use spoofing techniques that falsify information sent to your caller ID. For example, a number may be changed to look like one similar to your own to increase the likelihood that you’ll pick up or call it back.
CBS News reports that residents in Arizona and New York have recently been targeted by the scam, and the latest robocalls have used a 222 area code, which is for the West African nation of Mauritania.
A variation of the “one-call” scam is to leave a deceptive voicemail message urging you to call back the number to either collect a prize or get information about a sick relative, according to the FTC.
Tips On How To Avoid The Scam
The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips on keeping yourself safe from phone scammers using the “one-ring” scam:
- Don’t answer or return any calls from numbers you don’t recognize
- Before calling unfamiliar numbers, do a Google search to see if the area code is international
- If you do not regularly make international calls, ask your phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line
- Always be cautious, even if a number appears authentic
Also, be sure to take a close look at your phone bill each month. If you are billed for a call you believe resulted from a scam, first try to resolve the issue with your phone company. If you can’t come to a resolution, though, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
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