With the continuous and heightened crackdown of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and other relevant government agencies against the plague caused by thousands of robocalls from companies and scammers, the regulator warned Americans with a new form of robocalling scam that rings the phone of their victims in the middle of the night in the hopes of them calling the spoofed numbers back.
The FCC warns consumers that a new scamming method has surfaced in different states called the “one ring” or “wangiri” scam where the culprits would call a consumer to have their phones ring just once, luring them into making a call back thinking that it could be an urgent call that they’ve missed.
According to the warning by the FCC, once a consumer calls back the spoofed numbers who rang their phone once, this would result in expensive additional telephone charges “billed at a higher-than-normal rate.”
To help consumers understand the new modus of robocallers in the wangiri scam, the agency released a document entitled “Consumer Guide on ‘One Ring’ Phone Scam.” According to the document, some of the calls may “appear to be from phone numbers somewhere in the United States, including three initial digits that resemble U.S. area codes.” However, some other savvy scammers often use area codes coming from other countries.
Based on the investigation conducted by the government agency, the spoofed calls appear to be coming from the African countries of Lithuania, Sierra Leone, and Mauritania. The wangiri calls use the country code of “222” which is the code for the said West African Nations.
Another area code tagged by the FCC in the document is “649” that goes to the Turks and Caicos and “809” that goes to the Dominican Republic.
Nonetheless, there is no information whether or not the calls did originate from the said countries or they are just from the USA, and the culprits were only spoofing the country code that appears in the wangiri calls that were made. Technology nowadays allows users to mask their private numbers with a different area and country code when they call. While this technology is helpful for a business who manage different branches from other states, it is, as evidenced in the newly discovered scam, can also be used to fool people into thinking that a call may be an important one.
“If you call such number, you risk being connected to a phone number outside the U.S. As a result, you wind up being charged a fee for connecting, along with significant per-minute fees for as long as they can keep you on the phone. These charges may show up on your bill as premium services,” added the FCC.
Furthermore, the newly discovered scam operate under the pretense of phony voice messages urging consumers to call a specific number to collect a prize or to “notify you about a ‘sick’ relative.”
In the same document, the FCC offered several tips in order for consumers to not fall victims of this specific robocall scam. According to the guide, consumers should not answer or return any calls from telephone numbers that are unfamiliar, or they did not recognize.
Another tip from the FCC is to double check whether or not the unfamiliar they are calling has international area codes, and if it is unnecessary, consumers should ask their phone companies to block their international calling services.
If in case a consumer fell victim to this new modus operandi of robocall scammers, the FCC advice the victim to file a complaint. The agency also urges consumers to settle the matter with their phone service providers first; however, if they are not able to resolve the issue on this level, the FCC can handle the complaint at no cost.
In the end,being vigilant is the most essential virtue in the age of robocallers and fraudsters that operate using telecommunication technology. While these scammers have the equipment to robocall anyone they want for profit, consumers have the power of information to choose to ignore it or to report it to the authorities. When more people are aware of the modus operandi by which these robocallers operate, the more people will be saved from the torment caused by overcharging for an unauthorized calling. /apr