Next time your phone rings only to stop almost immediately, think twice before calling the number back. It could end up costing you a hefty chunk of change. The Better Business Bureau is warning of a new scam that targets mobile users and results in unauthorized and unwanted charges.
What is the One Ring Scam?
Known as the “one ring” scam, victims receive a call originating from a foreign country (often Antigua, Jamaica, or some other Caribbean island). Before given an opportunity to answer, the caller hangs up after only one ring. At this point the bait is set. The scammer waits for a curious individual to give the number a call back, at which point the unsuspecting soul is hit immediately with an international call fee ($19.95) plus additional charges upwards of $9/minute.
Numbers to avoid
To avoid being scammed, avoid answering calls from unknown numbers that originate outside the US. Countries with numbers known to be involved in the scam include (area codes are in parenthesis):
- Antigua and Barbuda (268)
- Dominican Republic (809)
- Jamaica (876)
- British Virgin Islands (284)
- Grenada (473)
How to avoid being duped
As with most scams, the “one ring” scheme targets the user, not the technology, so there is no way to completely avoid attempts at being lured into “cramming,” the term applied to illegal activities placing unauthorized charges on wireless customers. Your best defense is your common sense.
Here are some tips to prevent yourself from becoming a victim:
- If a caller hangs up after only one ring, do not call back, especially if the call comes from a foreign area code.
- Do not answer or call back any unknown numbers originating from the countries listed above.
- To be extra careful, avoid answering calls from unknown out-of-state numbers, as well.
- When in doubt, do a quick Google search of the phone number. If the number has been associated with scams in the past, it is likely reported somewhere online.
- If you do answer one of these calls, do not call the number back if asked to do so. A scammer may also fake a disconnect in the hopes that you will redial the number.
- Check your phone bill for abnormal charges if you suspect you have already become the victim of such a scam. Note the number these charges are associated with and avoid future contact.
- Use your brain and practice caution. Remember: if it smells like a scam, it just might be. Do not let yourself become a victim.
How to block scam numbers
If you have received a call that you suspect could be from a “one ring” scammer, you can easily block the number and avoid any future hassles. It’s easy to do in iOS 7.
- Open the Phone app and navigate to the Recents tab
- Tap the information button (lowercase ‘i’ in a circle) next to the number to be blocked
- Scroll to the bottom of the info page and tap Block this Caller
- You will be asked to confirm. Tap Block Contact
Blocking the number won’t prevent the scammer from attempting to contact you from a different set of digits (or another area code altogether), but it should provide some peace of mind.
Stay safe out there
The “one ring” scam is only the latest in a long line of phone, messaging, and email scams that seek to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting, honest folk. It certainly will not be the last. Knowing the dangers and taking a few preventative measure should insure that you will not become the next victim.
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