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FCC Warns Against Rising 'One Ring' Phone Scam

by Suzanne Kantra on May 07, 2019

If you miss a one-ring phone call from an unrecognized number, the Federal Communications commission (FCC) is warning that you should not return the call. The “One Ring” phone scam is on the rise, and falling for it is as easy as it is costly.

In the scam, a computer autodials thousands of phone numbers at once. Calls disconnect after a single ring to make sure you can’t answer it in time, generating a missed call notification instead. The call may appear to be from a number in the U.S.  but is, in fact, from an international number that uses a three-digit code. For instance, Turks and Caicos is “649” and the Dominican Republic is “809.” And, often the calls come in the middle of the night when you’re less likely to be skeptical of the call. You may also receive voicemail messages urging you to call back to get information about a sick relative or to collect a prize. 

If you attempt to call the number back, you’ll be connected to a premium phone service located outside of the United States. It’s a pricey mistake: Callers can be stuck with a hefty upfront international call fee plus per-minute charges.

How can you stay safe? The FCC recommends the following:

  • Don't answer or return any calls from numbers you don't recognize.
  • Before calling unfamiliar numbers, check to see if the area code is international.
  • If you do not make international calls, ask your phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.
  • Always be cautious, even if a number appears authentic.

Also, you should check your phone bills carefully and inform your carrier if you spot any unauthorized charges. The earlier you document the fraud, the better your chances of having some or all of the charges removed. You might also want to block specific phone numbers should you be targeted. We have instructions for how to block calls on Android phones and how to block calls on iPhones.

For more on the One Ring Phone Scam, visit the FCC website.

[Image credit: Unkown call via BigStockPhoto]


News, Phones and Mobile, Blog, Privacy

Discussion loading


From Kim C. on May 07, 2019 :: 12:51 pm

I have gotten a few of those but because of the digits in front of the number I have not answered them or redialed them. However, I will spread the word because many people I know with their velcro phone answer every single call and if they miss a call they will try the number back.

It’s refreshing to get an email that is actually helpful and I love your site because I love tech.



From Suzanne Kantra on May 07, 2019 :: 2:09 pm

Thank you Kim! I love helping people with their tech!



From George B. on May 07, 2019 :: 2:01 pm

Would this work at all if you use a phone plan where you pay as you go? I use a phone where you buy airtime in advance and don’t even receive a bill. Would it just drain all your airtime, or even work at all?



From Josh Kirschner on May 07, 2019 :: 2:38 pm

If your phone plans allows international calls, then you would likely be affected, as well, and pay pretty hefty pay-per-minute rates for those overseas calls. I’m not clear on whether other international tolls may be applied to a prepaid account (i.e, international 900-number equivalents) on top of the per minute rates.


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