FCC Warns Of 'One-Ring' Robocall Scheme That Can Drive Up Phone Bills

Scammers let phones ring once. If people call back, they’re connected to a number that charges per-minute fees.

Federal regulators are warning consumers that they shouldn’t return anonymous phone calls because of a “one-ring” robocall scheme that’s affecting parts of the United States.

The Federal Communications Commission released an advisory on Friday about these robocalls in which scammers let people’s phones ring once or twice before the call hangs up. The idea is to lure the targets into dialing back. When people do call back, they’re connected with a 900 number that charges per-minute fees.

Most recently, residents in some New York and Arizona area codes have been hit, usually late at night and with calls using the “222” country code for Mauritania, according to the FCC. Robocallers can spoof their phone numbers to hide exactly where they’re coming from, so the 222 area code does not necessarily mean the calls are coming from that West African nation.

“Advances in technology allow massive amounts of calls to be made cheaply and easily. In addition, spoofing tools make it easy for scammers to mask their identity,” the agency said. “The FCC is working to combat scam calls with enforcement actions, a strong push for caller ID authentication, and support for call blocking tools.”

The FCC recommends that consumers not return phone calls they don’t recognize and monitor their bills for premium charges if they have returned such a call. If you see those premium charges resulting from a scam call, reach out first to your phone company and second, if that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the FCC. Affected consumers can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

YouMail, a robocall-blocking software company, estimated that Americans received nearly 50 billion robocalls last year. Unwanted calls are responsible for 60% of all complaints to the FCC.

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