What Is a One Ring Scam?
A one ring scam is an attempt to trick you into calling a fraudster’s number. Your phone rings once then stops, with the fraudster relying on your curiosity to prompt you to call the number back to see who was ringing. But remember what curiosity did to the cat?
Calling back an unknown number may seem like a quick and easy way to see who was trying to call you. However, it could end up costing you a lot of money in international calling fees. According to Truecaller, Americans lost $29.8 billion to scam calls in the year to June 2021, including one ring scams and a range of other telecommunications fraud attacks.
The one ring cell phone scam has been around for years. As far back as 2014, the Better Business Bureau issued a fraud alert to warn that one ring phone scams were on the rise. As such, businesses need to ensure their staff is aware of this scam in order to avoid racking up huge phone bills.
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How Do One Ring Scams Work?
The one ring phone call scam is pretty simple. The cybercriminal uses an auto-dialer to systematically work its way through a long list of phone numbers. The auto-dialer hangs up after a single ring, and if the receiver calls that number back, they’ll be connected to an international phone service. They’ll immediately be charged for that connection as well as an expensive rate for every minute they stay on the line.
The fact that these numbers charge a fee upon connection means that even if you hang up straight away, you’ve still lost money. As such, it’s important for employees to tell their IT departments immediately if they believe they have been victims of a one ring phone call scam.
This scam takes place across the world, having originated in Japan, where it is known as the wangiri phone scam. The scam picked up this name because it means “one and cut” in Japanese – in reference to the cybercriminals calling once, disconnecting, and then hoping to lure the receiver into calling back.
The scam is also sometimes referred to as the one ring robocall scam, due to the use of the auto-dialers that make the calls and the recorded voice services that the call returners often end up connecting to.
How to Avoid the One Ring Scam
The way to avoid the one ring scam is to not call back any number that calls you once and then cuts off. Overcoming the temptation to find out who called you is key, as it is that curiosity that the scammers rely on to make their money.
It’s also important to bear this in mind when you have missed calls from numbers you don’t recognize. If you’ve been in a meeting, for example, you may not realize that the missed call on your phone was due to someone only ringing once and then hanging up. Best practice is therefore not to return any calls from numbers you don’t know. A genuine caller should leave you a message, such as a voicemail, if the call is important.
As with so many scams, education is key to avoiding the one ring scam. Many people are unaware that simply calling a number could cost them money. As such, the more businesses that raise awareness of this among their employee teams, the better. Any phone number can be used for the scam, so regular awareness training on this is essential.
What Numbers Do One Ring Phone Call Scams Come from Usually?
One ring phone scams can come from a wide range of different numbers. In the UK, for example, communications regulator Ofcom warns that people should take particular care when returning calls that come from numbers beginning with 070/076, 084/087, 090/091, or 118.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advises that savvy scammers often call from numbers that look like they come from within the US but that are actually overseas. It uses numbers beginning with 232 and 809 as examples. These look like calls from domestic numbers but are actually from Sierra Leone (+232) and the Dominican Republic (+809). Callers should take care to look out for the “+” symbol at the start of a number they are calling.
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What to Do if You Encounter a One Ring Scam
If you’re at work and you encounter a one ring scam, tell your IT team immediately. They can then liaise with the right telephone company to try to avoid any relevant charges appearing on your phone bill.
If one ring scammers call your personal phone, then call your phone company as soon as you realize. They may be able to help you avoid the charges associated with the scam.
Some countries also offer regulatory support in dealing with the impact of one ring robocall scams. In the US, for example, you can file a complaint free of charge with the FCC if you are unable to resolve the matter with your telephone company.
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