One Ring Scams Are Here…. Here’s How To Avoid Being A Victim

Over the last couple of weeks, Canadian wireless customers, and I am sure this is true in the US as well may have experienced the following:

  1. The phone rings once and stops.
  2. The phone’s owner checks the phone and it’s a number from the country code of 235 (Chad) or 232 (Somalia).

Now you’re likely tempted to phone the number back. I am here to say don’t do that. No. seriously. Don’t phone the number back. That’s what these scammers want you to do. And it is a scam called the “One Ring” scam. The whole idea is that the scammers are trying to get you to call them back. But when you do, you’ll get billed an astronomical amount of money per minute. I’ve heard of $400 a minute in one case which is insane.

Now in my case, I’ve received four of these calls over the last week. In every case, I’ve blocked the number in hopes that this will stop the calls. Seeing as two of them were at 3AM, that’s important to me. But blocking calls may not solve the problem as the scumbags behind this scam often use caller ID “spoofing” or deliberately falsifying the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Thus it may end up being a situation where it’s like playing “Whack A Mole.”

The best way to avoid being a victim is to not to call back these numbers. Ever. But here’s a couple of other tips that may be of use:

  • Check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls. Google or whatever search engine that you prefer can help with this. Now this scam seems to use 3-digit country codes connect callers to international telephone numbers. Thus if you see a three digit code before the number, it’s likely a scam.
  • If you do not otherwise make international calls, ask your local or wireless phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line. That way you can’t be a victim if you can’t actually dial the number back.

But if you do end up getting burned by this, I would recommend calling your phone company and seeing what they can do to credit the bill. On top of that, you should report it. In Canada, that means that you should go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. In the US, you can file a complaint with the FCC. Though, because of the nature of this scam, there’s likely not much that either party can do. Thus the best way to protect yourself is to not to call back.

UPDATE: I have also confirmed that calls are coming from 269 (Comoros), strangely 573 (A Missouri area code, but it is possible that it is country code 57 which is Colombia) and 267 (Botswana)

 

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