Officials warn of ‘one-ring’ phone scams

OLYMPIA — A strange call from an area code in the Caribbean that hangs up after one ring probably isn’t someone calling to tell you you’ve won a tropical vacation.

It’s most likely another case of the “one-ring scam.” Governments, including the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement agencies and mobile carriers are warning people not to call those numbers back.

The scam works like this: Automatic dialers call thousands of random cellphone numbers, hanging up after one ring.

The scammers want you to think you’re missing an important call and call that number back. If you do, however, you’ll be charged a $19.95 international connection fee, plus an additional $9 per minute you’re on the line.

Many of the calls originate in the Caribbean, in countries or territories such as Antigua or Barbuda (area code 268), the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), the British Virgin Islands (284) or Grenada (473).

Other area codes associated with the scam include 664, 649, 767, 829 and 849, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

These scammers take advantage of the fact that these foreign locations can be reached by mobile phones in the U.S. even if the customer doesn’t have an international calling plan. If you do call back, you might reach an adult entertainment service, or possibly just a message to stay on the line for an operator.

Alison Dempsey-Hall, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s office, said that while they’ve only had one complaint so far, they are getting numerous calls about the scam, and even her own coworkers are receiving the calls.

Furthermore, the Better Business Bureau has been tracking these calls across the U.S.

“Essentially, it seems to be sweeping the nation,” Dempsey-Hall said.

If you get a call on your cell phone from an unknown number that hangs up after one ring, the advice from the FTC, the Better Business Bureau and other agencies is the same: Ignore it. Never return calls to unfamiliar foreign numbers.

If you’re tempted to call back, check the number through online directories first, to find out where it is registered.

If you think you’re a victim of a one-ring scam, contact your mobile carrier and try to resolve the charges with them. If that doesn’t work, both the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission have online complaint forms (at ftccomplaintassistant.gov and fcc.gov/complaints, respectively).

As a general rule, read your phone bill carefully, and if you don’t recognize a call, contact your carrier.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A 1.2-mile stretch of 236th Street NE near Arlington will be fully closed May 31 through Sept. 2 for a road project. (Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians)
Months-long closure ahead for 236th Street NE near Arlington

The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians is widening lanes, adding a separated shared path and improving wildlife crossings.

Nate Nehring (left) and Sam Low.
Snohomish County’s LGBTQ Pride proclamation gets no GOP support

Councilmember Nate Nehring said it would violate his “personal conscience” by “celebrating particular lifestyles.”

Denny’s employee hospitalized after shooting south of Everett

A group of people was asked to leave. Someone fired a gun. A suspect was arrested.

Everett
2 teens arrested after Everett shooting, 100 mph chase

A young man was shot in the leg at an apartment near Voyager Middle School, where kids were being released for the day.

Everett
Pair identified in apparent murder-suicide in Everett

Police believe a man killed a woman, then himself. No arrests were made. No suspects were believed to be at large.

Law enforcement stand guard at the front driveway to Cascade High School as multiple agencies attempt to track down a suspect who reportedly had a firearm near campus Friday, May 27, 2022, in Everett, Washington. Dozens of concerned family members arrived to the school and stood along Casino Road waiting to find out what was happening. An airsoft pistol was recovered during a security sweep. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Apparent threat at Cascade High turned out to be airsoft gun

Two Everett schools went into lockdown Friday as police conducted security sweeps of their campuses.

Hydraulic fluid from a Waste Management garbage truck damaged roads in Mountlake Terrace June 23, 2021. The company hired crews to put absorbent material on the fluid and swept it, but several areas need to be repaired this year. (Mountlake Terrace)
Truck leak prompts 2 miles of road work in Mountlake Terrace

About 50 gallons of hydraulic fluid spilled from a Waste Management garbage truck last June.

Everett
Homicide suspect arrested in separate murder-for-hire sting

New court papers connect Selvin Rosales-Sevilla, of Mountlake Terrace, to the killing of Kevin Nieto Mejia at Ebey Island.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Bird flu comes to Snohomish County, via backyard flock

Where exactly was not immediately released. But flock owners should be vigilant to prevent further spread of the virus.

Most Read