A New Telephone Scam

Usually when word spreads of a new telephone, mail, or online scam I’m skeptical. Most of the time these scams end up being fear mongering. But I actually know a friend who was cheated by a recent telephone scam so I believe it’s legitimate and therefore worth bringing up:

One of my Facebook followers let me know about an old scam that has roared back to life. Years ago, crooks found a way to exploit a handful of international area codes that don’t require a foreign code to dial up.

Now that scam has resurfaced as what’s being called the “one ring scam.” Crooks are using robocalling technology to place Internet calls that only ring once to cell phones.

If you pick up, the robocaller just drops the line. But the bigger danger is if you miss the call. Like so many people, you might think it’s an important call and dial that number right back.

Bad move.

Turns out the area codes are in the Caribbean. That call will cost you between $15 and $30! And to add insult to injury, the criminals behind these calls will sign you up (through your cell provider) for bogus services that will be crammed on your phone bill if you return their call.

I have a policy of never answering the phone when I don’t recognize the number. If it’s important I know the person will leave a voice mail, which I can use to identify the caller. If I’m unable to identify the caller via their voice mail message or don’t recognize the individual or organization that left the message I don’t bother calling back. My primary reason for this is sheer laziness but it turns out that it also guards against several scams.

Scamming people out of resources is probably the second oldest profession in the world. Unless you want to regularly be separated from your money you need to be extremely skeptical of, well, everything. If you can’t identify the person you’re communicating with then you should assume that it’s a scam or a waste of your time (or both). Even being able to identify the person you’re communicating with isn’t always an effective defense since many so-called friends turn out to be scam artists themselves.