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“One-ring” cell phone scam can ding your wallet

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Who’s calling now? That number doesn’t ring a bell. Hold the phone, says the Federal Trade Commission. You could be a potential victim of the growing "one-ring” cell phone scam.

Here’s how it works: Scammers are using auto-dialers to call cell phone numbers across the country. Scammers let the phone ring once — just enough for a missed call message to pop up.

The scammers hope you’ll call back, either because you believe a legitimate call was cut off, or you will be curious about who called. If you do, chances are you’ll hear something like, “Hello. You’ve reached the operator, please hold.” All the while, you’re getting slammed with some hefty charges — a per-minute charge on top of an international rate. The calls are from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they’re from inside the U.S., but actually are associated with international phone numbers — often in the Caribbean. The area codes include: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

If you get a call like this, don’t pick it up and don’t call the number back. There’s no danger in getting the call: the danger is in calling back and racking up a whopping bill.

If you're tempted to call back, do yourself a favor and check the number through online directories first. They can tell you where the phone number is registered.

If you’ve been a victim of the “one-ring” scam, try to resolve the charges with your cell phone carrier. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

And as a general rule: Read your phone bill often — line by line. If you don’t recognize or understand a charge, contact your carrier.

I’ve got to go now; my cell phone is ringing.


They have rung my phone at least 10x today I did accidentally call 2 back before I got this alert.

What kind of govt allows this to continue? Why not force the telephone providers to publish such numbers and allow consumers to put a block on those?

I am all for the right for the consumer to put a block on unwanted call-numbers AND no fee to the consumer who receives calls or text messages, which are often unwanted! Verizon gives the consumer space for ONLY 10 numbers to block - rarely enough.

The best way I've found with any cell phone number to block those calls is to create a contact in your contact list called "SPAM" and make sure that you set that account's ringtone to "NO RING", then add whatever number that calls that you don't know to that contact and you won't ever have to worry about the phone ringing again when you get called 10x a day... let go to your voice mail because 9 times out of 10 they will never leave a message anyway, but at least you don't have to worry about them bugging you incessantly again!

It's done by a auto dialing system and they use different numbers to dial from as well

Certain phone switches and auto dialers allow them to spoof caller I'd. They can literally call you from any phone number they want to which makes it very difficult to trace and prosecute. Best thing to do is practice good judgement and never give personal info to anybody that calls you and asks for it.

Why doesn't the phone company BLOCK those numbers?

If the government started blocking any numbers people would start complaining about the government choosing which numbers to block.
Then there would be another blog about how the Gov is overstepping it's boundaries, etc..

The phone companies generate revenue from people making and receiving phone calls. Phone scammers generate a lot of revenue for phone companies. They are not going to cut off revenue. Innocent consumers are not going to cut their phone service.

we get a call several times per week sometimes more the caller ID says Virginia call. The 703-829-0487. Can this be stopped

This needs to be stopped by some authority.

Today I recieved a call from the following number 415-546-9827 when I tried to call back, since it was a local number, I was told the number was no longer in service. I checked the number on line to learn that it was a "SCAM" for a duct cleaning services. Several reports stated they were getting 2 -3 calls a day as follow-up marketing a service.

I've gotten many calls from 876 area code, prizes, lotteries, once it was Benjamin Franklin! "Please call us back at 876-blah-blah" I told them I had to discuss with my hubby who is RCMP. I actually gave the number to an RCMP officer who called and got a machine...I know better than to call back. I think someone sold my cell number when I entered a contest but didn't want to use my home number.... They don't call much now as I stopped answering. I wish the phone companies would allow area codes to be blocked!

I have a prepaid samsung galaxy smartphone "straight talk" I only use prepaid unlimited cards, so if the scammer does try this with me, i could call them back, but they cant stick me with a bill. This might be a solution for this problem (yes u can get iphones from straighttalk now) Try that phone service and i dont think any phone scammers can touch you unless u give them the information

If you use a prepaid service ie.. straight talk metro pcs even verizon or at&t as long as it is the prepaid service then these numbers usually will not let you call them back. i keep getting calls from 786-204-4358 rings twice i pick up and they hang up try to call back and get "your call can not be completed" or "number is not in service at this time". called metro and was told the scam numbers that bill you automaticlly can not be called because of my prepaid plan. hope this info helps.

Come On FTC!!! Get off your butts and do your jobs!
Everyone knows (from the NSA whistleblowers) that you, Verizon, and all the phone services can track every call (the phone companies do it for billing!)
You can AND SHOULD be cutting off service to spammers and robo-callers (except legitimate info center like school closings alerts. CLEARLY, you aren't doing this because you and Verizon are getting huge kickbacks to let the scammers and robo callers continue their nefarious operations. SHAME ON THE FTC AND YOUR TOTAL DISREGARD FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND THE 4th AMENDMENT!!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!

Good for LarryBoston! When I was called by telemarketers despite being on the do-not-call list, I tried to find the calling number and was told by AT&T they couldn't identify the callers because they were using "another provider." That's baloney! Just ask the NSA... or Edward Snowden.

Here are two other increasingly annoying problems: (1) the 877-area code. Comments I've seen suggest this and certain other "new" area codes have been issued allowing callers to charge the CALLED party. If true, this should be stopped immediately.

(2) Pre-dawn and late-night calls (possibly from overseas) that identify the caller a "1 Unavailable" or by similar un-helpful words and numbers -- then don't speak. The FTC should be armed with the legal authority to block all such calls, wherever on Earth they may originate.

If LarryBoston is right that corporate coziness with the FTC is part of the problem, it needs to end now.

Here's an addition suggestion: Hire U.S.-based employees to accept consumer complaints LIVE and over the telephone. Sorry to say, the average telephone customer can't do much more with a computer than play solitaire and forward bad jokes via email. He/she doesn't even know the FTC exists, much less how to contact the agency over the internet.

FTC or FCC??

received call from 216-278-0121 says it is Ohio area, Man wanted to know if I had any outstanding payday loans,,,when I ask who was calling he said never mind and hung up. When I tried to call the number back I received and automated message that the number was not in service please call back later followed by a series of numbers and a letters like 123T. not sure what this is about but sure wish someone would look into it and stop this guy.

Mr Longinus +2347064860134

The information is helpful, however, the key solution is to stop this kind of bill-back mechanism from being a possibility. Have FTC, other gov official branches and Telcos really look into why this simple accidental call-back action would allow scammers to bill you through a legitimate Telco company any dollar at the first place? Should Telco be considered an accessory to this type of crime? Ridiculously silly!

Crazy Generous

Got a call from 786-204-4358. Didn't answer but saw this missed call on my phone and called back. Got a recording saying the number you called an not be completed as dialed. Please investigate this caller.


Unfortunately, scammers can fake the ID information that you see on your phone. That's called caller ID spoofing — and new technology makes it very easy to do. Watch this video to learn more about caller ID spoofing.

Come on people. Quit crying to Authorities to solve your issues. Protect yourself. Use the information in this article to stop them from scamming you. Don't rely on the government or a get mad at a government agency for not insulating you form the bad people in the world. You cannot cry about living in a Nanny State and then cry when the Nanny doesn't protect you. The Nanny is giving you the information you need. Don't call back missed calls unless you recognize the number. its that simple. If you miss a call and its important they will either call back or leave you a message.

Well said! Was thinking the same thing myself. Simple solution, don't EVER call back ever and of you can block the number!

This solution is fine for the average person, but not for the small business. If we are on the phone and we receive a call on our business, line it would normally be in our best interest to call the number right back. Now we have to wonder if the number is a scam number or spend the time to try and cross reference the number in our database. Takes up valuable time.

Common sense is no different for small business. If the caller does not leave a message - they are not interested enough in your service to warrant a call back.

It is NOT in your best interest to call the number back, unless they request that you do so.

Another way to avoid this scam is to not call numbers you don't recognize. If my phone rings and I don't answer it in time, I just let it go. If it's important, they'll leave a message, if not, that's fine.

We can all protect ourselves by using common sense and the clear warnings posted here.
A public service announcement would be helpful in informing the public as a whole. I doubt there are many people taking a proactive approach to staying informed.
The FTC and phone carriers can certainly shut down scammers and provide future protection from would be scammers.
We should expect some help/protection for a growing industry wide problem and our use of technology. problem

a few years ago I received a phone call from an unknown number, the person on the phone was polite when he informed me I had won a 5day 4 nights all expense paid vacation all I had to do was pay for the airfare (isn't that normally included in and all expense paid trip?). after involving the person in a 10 minute conversation about the weather and other things I told the person that it sounded like a wonderful but unfortunately my religion didn't allow me to go on vacations (twas a fib), there was silence for a moments and then a confused good

786-204-4358 just called and hung up... seems they are on the robo again.

Here's more information on robocalls and tips on what to do if you get them.

phone number 786-607-9053 calls my home phone; I let it ring. A legitimte call goes to answering device; this phone NEVER leaves a message. It is a scam for sure

Can any one help I keep getting a call and the only number that shows up is 104

I just had the same thing happen to me twice in the past 24 hours. I didn't answer because I didn't even hear my phone ring. I tried calling it back the first time but it said "you're call cannot be completed as dialed" I realized it was probably a scam and hung up but I just got another one 15 minutes ago. Very weird.

I received 4 calls today on my cell phone. They all had different area codes but the same prefix. (859)555-0169; (206)555-0109; (913)555-0173; (508)555-0137. Can someone tell me anything about these numbers?

Im getting same numbers but with a 813 area code... can someone tell us something?

I don't know if it has changed, but there used to be NO phone numbers with "555" in the middle. TV and radio programs, when they needed to use a phone number for the story, always made one up with 555. So, clearly, any time you get ***-555-**** (whatever the stars are) on your caller ID, it is a spoofed number, and doesn't exist.

the only legit numbers I know that use 555 are for long distance information

Verizon offered to "Greatly reduce, or even eliminate", the deluge of robo calls I recieve. This will cost me a couple hundred a year, after the initial $200 to cancel my current service, then start up with a new phone number.
Then I must order unlisted number, $5/mo., Caller ID, $4/mo, Do not accept Private Number, $5/ mo., and something else (monthly) that I have forgotten.
Or, for $368 they will switch me on to services that total $168. a year additional charges forever after (there will be hikes I'm sure). Verizon suggests that I MIGHT not get as many calls!
How Lovely. My guess, Verizon is heavily invested in the ROBO CALL business.

A waste of time. I wrote carefully, & clearly, clicked Post (below) and NOTHING.
The phone Co will provide services (change phone # to unlisted, add caller ID , block Private #'s from ringing, for a mere $368, then $168 annually thereafter.

When I'm not expecting a call I put my phone into airplane mode. I also use youmail (alternate voicemail service) with my phone's built in "direct to VM" feature. If someone calls that isn't in my contact book they go direct to VM, hear 1 second of dead air then the beep to leave a message. This can confuse some spammers to leaving a message they didn't want to leave.

I've been getting these calls morning, noon and night, 7 days a week since I used my phone on a wireless network at a local coffee shop. It's been going on for three months now and will not stop. These phone calls are not only annoying but my cell phone provider keeps telling me the only solution is to change my number. I can't because it's a business phone and I do get calls from folks I don't know. My mail box is filling up with these silent voicemail messages. Blocking is useless because they use a different number every time. Takes all the joy out of having a cell phone...

I'm not getting the number of calls you are (knock on wood), but the ones I get are incredibly annoying. I've always avoided answering calls for which the number/area code isn’t familiar, and I've been particularly vigilant for the last couple years, as scammers have amped up their cell phone-related crime. However, corporations need to make some adjustments to their business practices in this new reality. I ordered clothing for my mom from, and 3 weeks later, she still hadn't received it. The company was sitting on the order because they were concerned about the disparity between the mailing and billing addresses. Apparently, they had phoned me, but a reverse search of the number was from an unidentifiable residential landline in Texas. No way was I going to activate that voicemail. If Roaman's is going to alert people via telephone and snail mail (they claimed to have also sent a postcard), instead of the more logical solution of email, they should ensure that the phone number can be readily identified as theirs, not an unidentifiable residence in Pig's Snout, Texas.

I've just received a call from what sounded like a little boy asking who I was from the #786-359-6237.

I hung up, but they called back three times.

I don't understand how they make money from this. It seems to me that the phone companies would be the only ones who would benefit. How can anyone other than a phone company bill you for phone calls?

It's similar to those late night TV ads for phone sex services, the ones that cost $5.99 for the first three minutes, and $1.99 for every minute after. At first, callers had to give credit card info. But when phone companies began to realize they were missing out on a lucrative revenue stream, they marketed special toll call numbers to the phone sex services: in return for a hefty percentage, the phone companies would bill the customer directly for the phone sex calls, listing them with all other toll (long-distance) calls the customer had made. The services readily agreed to the arrangement, realizing that credit card transactions not only killed the mood for some callers, but also gave them a chance to rethink & hang up before the call clock started. Less call loss meant more profit, as did eliminating the need for employees for billing, so the services were still making a lot of money, even after phone companies took their share. BTW, phone companies market this arrangement for other types of phone-based services, such as psychic readings, social networking, gaming/ gambling, etc. It's been very popular with the public, especially in areas of low literacy, and very profitable for the telecommunications industry.

What's happening these days is that disreputable entities, often overseas, are making phone calls to people who, once they answer, are connected to some of these phone sex services without their knowledge or permission. Once the connection is established, the call is billed to the person on their regular monthly phone bill. The charges can be astronomical since there is no one there to disconnect the call, and because there can be international toll call charges added.

Got my call from 786-204-4358 at 9pm tonight, but knew right away that he has a small appendage, so I didn't answer.

Added him to my address book which gives me the ability to block the little [tiny] tike.

Folks, don't EVER call any of these numbers back as it is likely a scam that charges $20 for the connection and $10 a minute on your phone bill by keeping you on hold for ever.

Sleep well my friends knowing that the fellow with the tiny appendage will soon be wear some steel bracelets. Yes, they made the mistake of calling a police officer. :-)


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