Ever had your phone ring once or twice and then stop?
It’s tempting to call the number back but, according to the Federal Communications Commission, you should not.
“Think twice before returning the call. It may be a scam,” according to this FCC post about a common one-ring wireless phone scam.
While the three-digit area code that pops up might appear to have originated domestically, it could actually be associated with an international pay-per-call phone number. If you call it back, you might be connected to an international hotline, which results in a fee just for connecting and then some per-minute fees that add up quickly as they’ll try to keep you on the phone as long as possible. Consumers then see charges on their phone bill for premium services.
“If you return the call you will be connected to a phone number outside the United States, often in Canada or the Caribbean, and charged expensive international call rates,” according to the FCC story, which goes on to give the following area code examples that might appear to be domestic but are really international:
- “649” goes to the Turks and Caicos,
- “809” goes to the Dominican Republic,
- “284” goes to the British Virgin Islands, and
- “876” goes to Jamaica.
“This scam appears to be a variation of fraud involving phony messages on answering machines urging you to call a number with an unfamiliar area code to collect a fake prize or find out about a ‘sick’ relative,” according to the FCC.
If you fell for this scam and are billed for a call, as a result, try to resolve the matter with your phone company directly. If that doesn’t work you can — and should — file a complaint with the FCC.
You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which will help the FTC detect patterns of fraud and abuse.
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