If you receive a call or text from an unfamiliar area code, you may want to read this first.
Inc.com is reporting that the “one ring scam” that has shown up periodically in the past few years has resurfaced. Scammers are using auto-dialers to call cellphone numbers across the country. They let the phone ring once, just enough for a missed call message to pop up, then hang up.
The scammers are hoping you’ll call back — and when you do, you’ll be slammed with hefty charges, both per-minute and international. If you do return the call, you’ll likely get a message that attempts to keep you on the line, something such as, “Hello. You’ve reached the operator, please hold,” according to the FTC.
“In the past, telephone consumers have been fooled into making expensive international calls by scam artists who leave messages on consumers’ answering machines or their email accounts. The messages urge consumers to call a number … to collect a prize, find out about a sick relative, or engage in sex talk,” the FCC wrote on its website back in 2015.
The calls are from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they’re from inside the U.S., but are actually associated with international phone numbers — often in the Caribbean.
According to the FTC, the area codes include 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.
Inc.com reports that there are actually three versions of this scam now:
- Scammer calls and hangs up before anyone answers.
- Scammer waits for the victim to answer and plays a pre-recorded message of someone in an emergency situation and then hangs up.
- Scammer sends a text message indicating that they are in trouble.
If you receive an unexpected call or text from an area code you don’t recognize, don’t answer it. Do a Google search to see where the call is coming from. If it’s someone you know, most likely they will call you back or send a text message.
The FTC also recommends reviewing your cellphone bill carefully and to contact your provider if there are any suspicious charges.
“As a general rule: Read your phone bill often — line by line. If you don’t recognize or understand a charge, contact your carrier,” the FTC says.