Beware of the “One Ring” Robocall Scam
In April of 2019, U.S. citizens received 5.3 billion robocalls. That breaks down to about 22 calls for each person, and about 237,675 robocalls every minute. Compare that to the 4.84 billion robocalls in December of 2018, and it’s clear exactly how much the problem of one ring scam calls is growing. While these calls have varying intentions, many are after personal information – trying to trick the victim into thinking the IRS is auditing them, or they have an overdue student loan.
In addition to being annoying and time-consuming, these one ring calls can be dangerous. When people fall for the (often convincing) scams, they’re at risk of 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.
What is the One-Ring Phone Scam?
The one-ring phone scam is a newer (it originated in the last few years) scam tactic that targets mobile phone users. Unlike other phone scams, the goal of this one isn’t always to get people to answer. Instead, these scammers want to get victims to call back. The scam works like this:
You’ll 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, though, you’re connected to a phone number outside the U.S., which may result in international call fees and high per-minute talk rates on your next bill. If you engage with these scammers, you’ll also be at risk of identity theft, financial exploitation, and expensive credit card scams.
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.
Here’s what the FCC’s one-ring consumer guide says about how to deal with this scam if you’ve been impacted:
Filing a complaint with the FCC
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.
Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
If you feel that you are a victim of an international phone scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
How to Identify Phone Scams
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:
- It sounds too good to be true. If you get a call from a stranger who tells you you’ve been specially selected for an offer, won a special prize, or hit the jackpot in a foreign lottery, it’s a sure-fire sign of a scam. Remember: phone scams work by sweeping you off your feet. The less time you have to think about the pitch, the better.
- They ask for personal information over the phone. Scammers posing as professional organizations (like the IRS or DMV) will typically tip their hands by asking for personal information over the phone. Avoid this trap by keeping your credit card, checking account, social security numbers, and other sensitive information to yourself.
- The pressure is high. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “Fast talkers who use high-pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time. Most legitimate businesses will give you time and written information about an offer before asking you to commit to a purchase.”
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.
Stopping the One-Ring Phone Scam in its Tracks
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:
- Never answer or return calls from unknown numbers
- Check on area codes you don’t recognize. While they may look domestic, they’re likely international
- If you do not have cause to make international calls, ask your phone number to block your line from initiating outgoing international calls
Want to take your security one step further? Download RoboKiller to stop the one-ring phone scam for good. Winner of the FTC’s RoboCalls Contest, RoboKiller stops spam calls and uses Answer Bots to confuse and repel spammers. In 2019, the answer bots working for RoboKiller wasted 138,791 hours of spammer time. As if that weren’t good enough, RoboKiller blocks spam calls from a list of 1,233,117 numbers and prevents an average of 24 spam calls per person that downloads the app.
Your phone is a private tool, and you want to keep it that way. After all, who likes glancing at the caller ID multiple times daily, only to see spam numbers? If you want to save time, protect your identity and personal information, and take your phone line back, RoboKiller is a great place to start. Learn more about the app and sign up today!