You are here

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

Share this page

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.

Scam Tags:  Phone Scams


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. :-)

Go for it! The fullest extent of the law.

I just tried to find out on Vonage website how to block these calls, they do have an "Anonymous Call Block". The issue is that if I use this I am afraid it will also block my friend who moved from out of state to in state but has kept the old cell phone and #. Then they also have a "Block a Phone Number" area and it states that you cannot block a phone # or caller from calling you. I feel like these people are stalkers, isn't there a way to block stalkers from contacting you?


It seems that these scam calls are not only used on people in the US. The wife (in europe)just got a call for 1 hour ago from this nr: 001 223 456 789 and just the contruction of that nr. made my "warning bells" to glow.

A good way for consumers to help themselves is to read and contribute to comments for a particular number at I've used this many times to check for existing complaints about a particular number, and have left additional comments to confirm or refute claims made on that page. (Some commenters are the "sky is falling" type, even when the calling party is legitimate but perhaps unwanted, like a legitimate bill collector.)

Keep in mind that this page - and - are just for comments and sharing with others, and will not generate any direct legal action. For that, you must make a formal complaint using the "File a Complaint with the FTC" link at the bottom-right of this page.

I also just got a call from +1 (223) 456-789. Found it here :) I'm in Europe too.

I have a VOIP landline phone which the Telco views as a cell number. I have been getting calls from "Unknown Name" every day now since the beginning of February, sometimes twice a day and once three times. When I answer, the line is dead, no one at the other end. There is never any message on my answering machine. At first, the return ID was from 1-317-497-0282, then they switched to 1-317-623-3488, and are now using 1-317-215-7147. Sometimes, the 1- prefix is dropped. I will never return their call as it might have call forwarding on it to a non-toll-free number who knows where. If they don't stop, I might switch back to a traditional landline phone number.

If the number has call forwarding they would be billed for the number it is forwarded to, not you, so you need not worry about that. You should always block your number though if you return a call to an unknown number (usually *67 before the number) to minimize the chances of being added to an active list. *67 does NOT work on any toll-free numbers (they use ANI or Automatic Number Identification, which cannot be blocked), and some VoIP services allow blocked numbers to show up anyway.

Update to my previous comment. Since I have a VOIP phone, I have the ability to block those calls. All I have to do is log into my account and put the number in the Call Blocking box in my profile with my local telco. It is one of the services VOIP provides, without additional charge I believe.

Didn't pick up. No voicemail. They have called before with the same story. I won't call back or anything. Thanks for your replies.

Many of you will eventually find out that number on your caller ID is a "spoofed" number. These are unused numbers that telemarketers and criminals use via a call spoofing service (e.g. Spoofcard, Spooftel, etc.). The government tried to address this by passing the "Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009". However, this law has very little effect in stopping those that intend to deceive or cause harm to others. My daughter has been stalked and harassed for weeks by someone using this service (she answers phone at work and cannot change this number). She blocks the number only to see another one appear. Law enforcement finds it difficult and time consuming to prosecute because they need to identify the internet spoofing service and subpoena their records. Trust me, this will get much worse before it gets better unless the federal government steps in.

My husband received a call on his cell from 786-204-4358 7:19 pm and a Spanish man was on the other end. It is a Florida number and at 7:19 pm here It's 10:19 pm in Miami, FL. Hubby handed me the phone and no one answered me when I said hello repeatedly, they just hung up and I'm not calling that number back. All cell and house phones unlisted and on the do not call list, go figure.

This 786-204-4358 number seriously called my husbands phone from 11:08 last night until 6:09 am every 2-3 minutes. I called Verizon and got the number blocked.

now that we all know it's a scam, why can't cell phone providers just blocked it off from their service as courtesy to their customers?

I just chatted with my cell provider and they were able to block the number i mentioned for me, and show me how to do this myself if it happens again (we`ll hafta see). With luck it won`t happen again.

same here these spanish calls from 786-204-4358

828-919-6798 One ring scam. I use ringback tones so music plays, not a regular ring. I don't answer unknown numbers, so I NEVER call back a hang-up!
beware and be smarter than a scammer! Even jerks who spoof numbers steal 800 scam numbers because they are haters of peace.

Got a call around 5pm local time from 786-204-4358, then my husband received a call from the same number at around 10:30pm. I missed the call and (so very stupidly) called back, thinking it was a relative in FL. I hung up within seconds, realizing what an incredibly bad idea it was to call back. I don't believe the call had connected, but what should I do?? Should I call my phone company to find out if it connected and charged me? I feel so dumb.

I get call like that all the time so I block all numbers that's not in my contact to go to voicemail n if important they leave a message n I call back also since these call are always fake so I won't have that problem they have text apps that can actually get calls n voicemail if you apply for sumn online use the text app number so when u get calls like that you don't have to worry they can call all hours it's not your main number in if it's important they will leave a message that saves you from that problem as well and you can use da app to find out who is calling if it's a scam number no harm done it works on wifi n 3G-4G

Just don't answer or call back it's as simple as that. As for blaming cell carriers the cell carriers see the same number as you do the reasoning is because that is what is registered on the tower as the call is transmitting and if caller Id spoofing was used by a auto dialer there is no way to track it so instead of complaining about it just out smart them and not answer it

I downloaded a call blocker app. The app is free and takes care of any call i want blocked.

I have the same numbers calling me one with a (773) area code I block numbers not in my contacts and if I'm using a site online that mite give my number away I created a text app where I can get voicemail and let them call that number 24-7 if I turn my phone off or log out the app I won't even know they called til I log in.

yeah, look the number up on google...then get this FTC notice. WHY THE HELL DOES FTC ALLOW IT TO CONTINUE ?????

a company called Performant out of California has called a few times - their number is 2098583500. They claim to be a collection center retrieving debt for the Federal and State Governments - problem here is that I don't owe anything, not a penny...not a dime. they are a scammer.

Called over 30 times so far tonight. I hit 1 then got a person that asked me if i spoke spanish. I said no. She said im sorry then hung up. Then continurd to call . Wont stop. I just blocked it. But phone continues to tell me it nlock again and again. Very anoying. Its 11:30 pm. They keep trying to call

I get these calls in the middle of the night, one ring hang ups from various different numbers. I have had to turn off my ringer. I hope I don't get any emergency calls. I would block the numbers, but they are always from different numbers. What should I do.

So when are the do-nothing slugs down at the FTC going to bust them and deport them? Never! Instead, they will whine for more tax money to do less while claiming ''it's Bush's fault'' and ''you're racist'' for complaining.

786-204-4358 just called and I did not hear it right away. I called back and the line was busy. Immediately after I hung up, my cell rang. I just disconnected it immediately.

I just received a call from 786-204-4358 and let it go to voicemail. I had a feeling it was one of these scams! My Father received it too and my friend apparently about a week ago. Glad I didn't answer!

We have been getting one ring calls for months now on our landline... our landline does not have long distance and no caller id so i had no idea what was going on until i stumbled across this site while looking for information on a different scam... wow, this sucks!

I have received quite a few of these type of calls. The most recent one is this:
Country: USA
Location: California

I suspect that it is not actually from California, but that it is being "spoofed." It rings only once and then hangs up.

Another scam.

~ N

I know people ftom california who have that area code, so it may not be spoofed, but it would still not answer it.

Anyone ever seen this number? 1253429c454? received repeatedly, never answered, finally ceased. Probably superseded by a not so obvious scam number.

I got a call from 786-204-4358 while I was talking on the same phone. I called back, there was only one ring, then hung up. What does it mean?

I`m wondering if this is what i just got today, number that called me is 605-475-4619. Did me a reverse lookup via Yellow Pages and found it`s a landline in South Dakota. The voice was Spanish- sounding, and was electronically altered, kinda like what you`d get if you ran your voice through a musical synth. Gotta wonder just whgat`s going on here that`s for sure.

I for one will be curious to see if number i mentioned in my previous post will try again, almost called the local PD to see if they could help, no joy there.

My friends and i got calls around the same time. In the same hour in fact. It's sort of creepy. How did they get all of us at the same time? It makes me wonder if it's some sort of stalker. If someone has information, please post it. This scam's creeping me out.

I was thinking I'd put these numbers on a block list but how many numbers are these scammed using?

Well I was dumb enough to answer for (786) 204-4358...recording in spanish. I should know better since this happened to me once on Christmas Day and I was charged 10 bucks...ridiculous. Warn your friends!!

Aside from cost everyone money and the phone company making extra money how do the callers make any money? It seems that the phone companies are the only ones who benefit from the scam. What am I missing. What is the online directory web site address to check numbers.

I got a call from 216-206-6895 last night at 11:30. I didn't answer and let it go to voice mail. No message. I hope this isn't going to be a regular occurrence...

I get calls often, from 786-204-4358. Always in Spanish, but I never call back or push the #'s it requests.

Don't answer the phone!!!

If you have a pay-as-you-go cell phone then there is no danger in calling back....right?

I got a call from 786-204-4358 while in church this morning. After church, I Googled the number and found this blog. I emailed this link to my family and friends. Thanks for the info!

We should all start calling the providers and demand them to block the number nationwide.Let's do it all together . they are going to be so busy that they won't be able to take care of costumers who have normal problems not like this major one.Then they will finally do smth about it.


Leave a Comment