The New York City Police Department is sending out a warning to residents surrounding the “one-ring phone scam,” which uses auto-dialers to target cell phone numbers across the country. However, the danger to consumers is not in receiving the call, but in calling back.
Scammers let the phone ring once and then hang up, prompting a missed call notification on phones. When an intended victim returns the call, police say they hear a message such as, “You’ve reached the operator, please hold,” while being hit with a hefty per-minute charge on top of an international rate.
Police say the calls come from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they are from within the U.S., but are actually associated with international phone numbers: The area codes used by scammers include 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.
To protect yourself, police are advising cell phone owners to ignore a call like this should they receive one. If you’re tempted to call back for whatever reason, check the number on online directories or search engines first to confirm where the phone is registered or see if it’s listed as a scam phone number.
If you have been the victim of the scam, police say to try to resolve the charges with your cell phone carrier and, if that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications commission.