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One Ring Scam – Know what to do when the phone rings once

One Ring Scam
Courtesy KOMO-News

The infamous one ring scam has been present since the first premium telephone service offering was provided by telephone companies, and will be around as long as those numbers continue to be available. While no evidence has been availed which indicates the targeting of Senior Citizens, the bulk nature of the criminal’s modus operandi ensure that a good number of senior citizens will be caught up in the scam.

The One Ring Scam Dissected

The hook: You receive a phone call on your cell or land line telephone. The caller allows the line to engage and ring one time. The caller then hangs up.  Your caller-id shows the number from which the call originated. It may or may not depending on your service provider show you the geographic point of origin.

The play:  You see the number and while you don’t recognize it, you immediately call the number back. When you do, the call is answered and you may be put on hold, or provided to a live person, or asked to listen to a recording – all have been encountered.

The payout:  The owner of the phone number you just called back has one goal and one goal only, to keep your phone connected to their phone for as long as possible.  The number which you called back is a “premium call number.” A number for which the owner garners anywhere from $1 to $20+ per minute for your call from their telephone company, who gets paid by your telephone company, who you pay.  The current (January 2014) spate of calls are originating from a number of Caribbean nations.

What can you do?  

Investigate If you have access to the internet, open a search browser of your choice and search on the number. Odds are you are not the first to have received a call. If the number comes up empty, search only on the country code and the prefix – this will allow you to determine if the number falls within those reserved for premium numbers. In the US these are numbers associated with the 900 Area Code.

Report Report the incident to your telephone company immediately, often times they will make a courtesy adjustment and in some cases be able to collaborate with the telephone company with whom the scam-artist’s number is associated to have it disabled.

Here is a video piece from Seattle’s KOMO-4 News: One Ring Scam – New Variation On An Old Phone Trick


About Christopher Burgess

Christopher Burgess is the voice of Senior Online Safety, the co-creator of Red Folder and the CEO of Prevendra, Inc.

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