You’re busy doing something and suddenly realize your phone is ringing and you miss the last ring. Or you’re away from your phone and see you’ve missed a call. Before returning that phone call you missed from an unfamiliar number, you might want to give the number a quick search on the internet to make sure you’re not the victim of a new telephone scam known as the one-ring scam.
The scam works by calling numbers and hanging up after the first ring. It’s easy to miss the first ring unless we’re quick—and that’s what the scam is betting on. Many of us will call right back. When we return the call of a one-ring scammer, though, it connects us to a system like an entertainment service that charges upwards of $20 per minute. Some other scammers put you on hold to connect to a “representative” and charge you for the time you spend on hold. The surprise comes later when you get your bill, which includes extra charges that go to the scammers.
According to the FTC most of these calls appear to originate from inside the United States but are actually coming from areas in the Caribbean. The most common area codes for these scams include 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876. If you see any of these, it’s wise not to call back. After all, if the person who is calling needs something, they’ll usually leave a message or call back.
The easiest thing to do is search in your favorite search engine using the number and see what comes up in the results. People who have been taken in by these scams sometimes post to message boards explaining what happened to them when they called the number back. The FTC is trying to shut down these scam operations quickly, so if you do find you’ve been subject to one of these scams be sure to report it.