I'm sure at some point you have received an annoying, unsolicited phone call from someone you don't know. They seem to come at the worst possible moments too, like when we're about to sit down for dinner.
Some of these unsolicited phone calls are going from annoying to malicious. You need to know about the latest phone scam making the rounds so you don't make this simple mistake.
How scammers are sticking victims with fraudulent charges
What's happening is, scammers are auto-dialing potential victims all across the U.S. Instead of waiting for the victim to answer, the scammer lets the phone ring just once and then hangs up. By doing this, a missed call message shows up on the victim's cellphone.
What the fraudsters are hoping for is that the victim dials the number of the missed call. If you call the number, a pre-recorded message will play. It will say something like, "Hello. You've reached the operator, please hold."
Not only will you be hit with an international rate fee, but you'll also be charged a per-minute fee for the entire time you're on the line. How this works is, the incoming number looks like it's a typical U.S. phone number with a three-digit area code. However, the number is spoofed and is actually going to international numbers that are set up to charge anyone who calls them.
What you need to do now
With so many phone scams these days, it's a good idea to just not answer calls from unknown numbers. If you receive a one-ring hang up call, definitely do NOT call the number back.
If someone you don't know is trying to reach you with an important message let them leave a voicemail. Even if they leave a contact number in a voicemail you should be cautious. Do an online search of the phone number before calling to see if there are warnings of a scam associated with it.
Here is a list of three-digit area codes that are known to be associated with this one-ring scam:
Again, if you see a missed call message with one of the area codes listed above, do not call the number back. Receiving one of these scam calls will only cost you if you dial the return number.
If you think that you have received one of these missed calls and dialed the return number, there are a couple things that you need to do.
- Look closely at your phone bills - Your phone bill might fluctuate from month to month depending on overages and fees. This is common. However, you should be paying attention to each charge that shows up on your bill, you could find a fraudulent one from a scam like this. If you do see a suspicious charge, call your mobile provider to verify it. If it's fraudulent, you can dispute it.
- Check your bank accounts - It's a good practice to check your bank accounts frequently already. If you see any suspicious charges, report them to your bank immediately.
Caution is always the best action, especially in today's world!