The FTC  is warning of a recent surge in one-ring scams. In these situations, scammers lure victims into placing overseas calls by targeting them with one-ring phone calls. When the victim returns the call, the scammer will employ a number of means to keep them on the phone for a while, thereby extending the length of the call. Sadly, the victim will be hit with sky-high international rates and other connection fees, much of which will end up in the scammer’s hands. Here’s how to spot these scams and protect yourself if you’re targeted.

Red flags 

The primary clue that you’re being targeted by a one-ring scam is, quite obviously, a phone call that only rings once. If you get a call like this, by all means do not call back.

You can also be on the lookout for foreign area codes, particularly those of countries in the Caribbean, including the following: 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

Sometimes, scammers will spoof a local number, including those of recognized businesses, to get you to place a return call to foreign shores. They may even get your own name and number to appear on your Caller ID screen. Ignore these calls, as well. If you unknowingly return a scammer’s phone call, look for a plus sign to appear ahead of the area code. This is your clue that you’re placing an international call. If you see a plus sign, hang up immediately.

If you’re targeted

If your phone rings once and then stops, follow these steps to protect yourself from this scam and help the authorities close in on the bad guys.

  • Don’t call back.
  • Ask your phone provider to block outgoing calls to international numbers. This way, you won’t be conned into thinking an overseas number is a domestic call. You’ll also be protected from accidental phone calls in which a simple mistake can end up costing you a pretty penny.
  • File a complaint with the FTC at donotcall.gov and to the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints.
  • Check your phone bill for suspicious charges. If you see a charge that has likely been incurred through one of these scams, speak to your phone carrier about resolving it.

Scammers are always looking for new ways to con people out of their money. Do your part in bringing an end to these nefarious schemes by arming yourself with the latest information about prevalent scams and reporting all scam attempts to the proper authorities. Together, we can put the bad guys out of business!

Have you been targeted by a one-ring call scam? Tell us about it in the comments.