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One-ring phone scams can cost you

beware of one ring calls

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

The Federal Communications Commission is warning consumers about a new scam that tricks you into connecting to a toll call. Your cell phone rings once, and before you can answer, the caller hangs up. This could leave you concerned that there is an emergency or just wondering who was calling.

Too often the one-ring call is an attempt to get you to call back the unknown number. If you get repeated one-ring calls from the same number, the caller is probably hoping you will return the call out of curiosity or worry.

When you do call back, you are unknowingly using a premium toll number that triggers a charge on your phone bill. The scammer collects a portion of the money your phone company charges you for the call.

There may be a flat fee for connecting to the toll number as well as per- minute fees for the time you are on the phone with the scammer

Scammers can use software to hide their real phone number, making a fake number show up in your phone’s caller ID. The fake number may look like a legitimate phone number in the United States. Scam operations also can make calls from a country outside the United States with a three digit international dialing code that resembles a U.S. area code

To avoid this scam:

  • Don’t answer or return calls from a number you don’t recognize. If it’s important or an emergency, the caller will leave a voice-mail message.
  • Check out unfamiliar area codes to be sure they are not the international dialing code for another country.
  • Don’t assume a number is legitimate because it appears to come from within your area code. Be suspicious of a number if the first three digits of the seven-digit phone number look unfamiliar for your area. You can check out legitimate area codes and their three-digit phone exchanges at  http://www.thedirectory.org.
  • If you do not make international calls, ask your phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line. This will prevent you from unexpectedly dialing back to a scam call coming from another country.
  • Check your phone bill carefully. Immediately report any suspicious charge to your telephone company. You may be able to dispute the charge, and you will help the phone company prevent future fraud.

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