Americans receive far too many robocalls. Last month they got a whopping 5.3 billion. And trust us, the problem is growing.
While these scam calls have varying intentions (none of them great), many of them seek to acquire personal information. Scammers can do this by impersonating the IRS and threatening an audit, pretending to be a loan company that claims you’re overdue, or even saying that they’re affiliated with a certain political party asking for phony donations.
There are plenty of ways that scammers scam, and one common scam is the one-ring robocall.
One-ring robocalls can be annoying and time-consuming—and they also can be dangerous. When people fall for these one-ring scams, which are often quite convincing, they’re at risk of falling victim to identity theft and financial exploitation.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from one-ring scam calls. The first step is education, and the next is fighting back. Let’s dive in.
The one-ring phone scam is a scam tactic that targets mobile phone users. Unlike other phone scams, the goal of this one isn’t to get people to answer. Scammers actually want to entice victims into calling them back.
The scam works like this: You see a number come through on your mobile phone. The call appears to be from a U.S. phone number that you don’t recognize. Surprisingly, though, the phone only rings once. Your interest is piqued, and you decide to call back. When you call back? You’re connected to a phone number outside the U.S. This can lead to surprise charges, like international call fees and high per-minute talk rates on your next bill.
There are a few variations on this scam. In some cases, scammers will use "spoofing" techniques, which means the caller will deliberately mask caller ID information to make it seem as if the call is coming from a local or familiar number. Another variation is that one-ring scammers will leave a recorded voicemail message, which urges you to call the number back to collect a prize, resolve a debt, or get time-sensitive information about a sick relative.
According to Consumer Affairs: “When the consumer calls back, they’re hit with significant phone charges of which the scammer gets a share. Those fees could be as much as $19.95, plus a large per minute charge as high as $9 per minute.”
And if you engage with these scammers? You can be at risk of identity theft, financial exploitation, and expensive credit card scams.
Consumer Affairs lists some of the tell-tale signs of these one-ring phone scams: “Most often, the FCC says the area codes that show up are from Caribbean countries, such as 649 (the Turks and Caicos) or 809 (Dominican Republic).” Similar scams have also been “linked to area codes 473 (Grenada); 876 and 658 (Jamaica); and 284 (British Virgin Islands).”
There are a few variations on this scam, though. In some cases, scammers will use “spoofing” techniques, which means the tell-tale signs listed by Consumer Affairs won’t be there. The calls won’t be coming from obviously international phone numbers. The caller will actually mask the caller ID information to make it seem as if the call is coming from a local or familiar number, rather than an international one.
Another variation is that one-ring scammers will leave a recorded voicemail message, which urges you to call the number back to collect a prize, resolve a debt, or get time-sensitive information about a sick relative.
ICYMI: Learn more about the “One Ring” scam hitting a number of area codes across the country: https://t.co/pROJ0ldMXv #ProtectingConsumers — The FCC (@FCC) May 6, 2019
Here's what the FCC's one-ring consumer guide says about how to deal with it:
If you are billed for a call you made as a result of this scam, first try to resolve the matter with your telephone company. If you are unable to resolve it directly, you can file a complaint with the FCC at not cost.
If you feel that you are a victim of an international phone scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
If you've ever received a scam call, you know it can be difficult, sometimes, to differentiate between a legitimate notification and spam. After all, it's frightening to hear a recorded message telling you your social security number has been suspended!
Because of this, it's essential to learn the signs of a phone scam. These include the following:
If you're not sure whether what you're dealing with is a scam call, you can always ask the person for a number at which to call them back. If it's not the same number the legitimate organization (the IRS, DMV, Social Security Administration, etc.) lists on their website or your account statements, you know the call was a scam.
When it comes to avoiding scam calls, the AARP has some good advice.
Have you returned the phone call of a one-ring dialer? Did they convince you that you’re overdue on a loan, that you owe back taxes, or that your credit card has been compromised? If you think you’ve fallen victim to a one-ring phone scam, here’s what the FCC’s one-ring consumer guide says that you should do.
The one-ring scam is annoying, expensive, and potentially dangerous, but can you stop it? Fortunately, the answer is yes! The first step is knowing what immediate steps to take. Here are a few the FTC recommends:
Take your phone security one step further, and download RoboKiller to stop the one-ring phone scam for good.
RoboKiller stops 99% of unwanted calls by using machine-learning, audio algorithms, and personalized block and allow lists that go beyond Caller ID.
As if that’s not enough, RoboKiller makes spam blocking fun by deploying Answer Bots to confuse and repel spammers. They trick spammers into thinking that they’re talking to a real person—stealing time from them and giving it back to you!
Does it work? Yep! In 2019, Answer Bots wasted more than 138,791 hours of spammers’ time. Between RoboKiller’s machine-learning audio algorithms, spammer blacklists, and even the Answer Bots, the one-ring phone scam doesn’t stand a chance. If you want to save time, protect your personal information, and take your phone line back, RoboKiller is a great place to start.