The “One Ring Phone Scam” (also known as a “wangiri” call) is a scam wherein you receive a call that rings just once.
You might mistakenly think that you have missed a call and try to call the phone number back. These calls can come in the middle of the night and appear to be from someone who is reaching out to you in need.
Panicked, you might call these numbers back. Don’t call them back.
How Does it Work
The scammer is looking for people to call the number back. The people who call back end up getting charged on their phone bill and the majority of the money goes to the scammer.
In some instances, people who call these “one ring” calls end up being placed on hold while music plays in the background.
This is meant to charge you extra money. The longer you wait on the call the more money you will be charged.
Sometimes, the scammer will say something like, “Someone who loves you sent you a song. You will find out who loves you at the end of the song.”
After calling these phone numbers back, you can incur charges – often international charges.
A number of these one ring phone scams come from different countries in Africa.
You might see area code “232” and think someone from CA is calling you.
If you see “232,” it could be a call from Sierra Leone. Most calls from Mauritania.
However, scammers are everywhere. If you see “809,” it could be the Dominican Republic.
What’s worse is that some people who use this type of scam can make a number appear local. They use “neighbor spoofing” technology to make your number appear local.
These numbers can match the first six numbers of your phone number to make you think the call is local. You might think one of your neighbors is trying to get ahold of you.
Red Flags to Look Out For
Look out for these red flags:
- Phone Numbers with long-distance codes – One telltale sign that you are being the victim of a one-ring phone scam is that the calls come from phone numbers that have long-distance codes. To prevent any and all unsolicited calls, it’s better to avoid any calls where you don’t recognize the phone number. The one ring phone scammer won’t leave a message and will usually hang up after the phone rings once. The charge amounts may seem insignificant, but they can add up. Also, the single call can cost you hundreds of dollars too.
- The caller asks you to call back – If you happen to answer before the scammer hangs up, they might pretend like they can’t hear you and ask that you call them back. Whatever you do, don’t call back. If the call is important, they will leave a message. If you happen to call the number back and see a “+” sign, this will let you know it’s an international number. Sometimes, you can do a search of the phone number and discover whether it is a robot-caller or not, but this isn’t always the case.
Tips on How to Protect Your Information
Follow these tips to protect your information:
- The bottom line is that if you don’t recognize the phone number, don’t pick up the phone. If someone is truly trying to get in touch with you, they will leave you a message.
- Don’t give out personal information to unsolicited callers. You can verify the phone number that called you with the company’s website.
- Don’t click on any links from the unsolicited caller or directly click a link from any text messages you receive. The caller can make a fake website pretending to be another company.
- With number spoofing, callers can make their numbers appear to look official, so don’t trust your caller ID. It’s always better to verify a company’s phone number.
What to Do if You Become a Victim
- Report unwanted calls and file a complaint with the FTC online. You can also call 1-877-FTC-HELP
- You might want to use the “do not call” registry and other tools, like call-blocking services. You can also block your outgoing calls in order to prevent yourself from making international calls. You may have success in waiving any incurred charges as the result of this type of scam through your telephone company. If you can’t resolve this issue, you can make a complaint through the FCC. You will need to save the number that called you and any other detail about the phone call.
- Dispute any charges you incur through your financial institution or credit card company. Note that this may be difficult to do, but you can always set up identity protection services to protect your information.
It’s important to protect your personal and sensitive financial information to avoid these types of scams and others. At 121 Financial Credit Union, we care that your personal and financial information stays protected and secure. For more information on other scams, visit our Security & Fraud page.