FCC Warns Consumers Of Widespread One Ring Robocall Scam

Robocall Scam
A public telephone booth is seen at the corner of a street (Photo: Retuers)

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a warning to all consumers regarding the spread of a so-called "one ring" robocall scam. The alert was sent out by the agency last week after it had received numerous reports of the scam spreading to states such as Arizona and New York State.

The scam involves perpetrators calling United States phones numbers, which they let ring once before hanging up. The callers don't leave any messages and the caller IDs display local US phone numbers. Most victims immediately call the number back thinking that they are just returning a missed call.

On the other end, users may hear a recording or a person trying to vaguely explain something to keep the caller on the line for as long as possible. However, unknown to the caller, they are actually connected to a telephone line with very expensive interconnect fees; much like calling a 900 number. Shortly after receiving these types of calls, victims often notice very bloated phone bill charges, which they would be forced to pay.

According to the FCC, consumers are often left with no choice but to pay for the expensive per-minute toll charges. The agency is advising consumers to not call these numbers back. The agency's investigation has determined that these calls were using the 222 country code of the West African country, Mauritania. The FCC has advised consumers to continuously check their bills for unidentified charges and to block international calls if possible.

Caller IDs are also useless in determining if a call is a scam as robocallers are using software to hide their numbers and imitate other numbers they know consumers would recognize. An entire industry has even recently sprung up, which offer services such as robocall blocking and apps that specialize in identifying incoming calls. According to one robocall blocking firm, people in the United States receive more than 4.9 billion automated calls per year or around 163 million calls per day.

Industry experts explained that fraudsters who initiate these types of calls to drive calls to premium rate phone numbers do earn money from kickbacks. The amount of money they get will depend on how long they can get a caller on the line and where they are located, which will vary for each victim.

While most people won't be calling back unknown numbers, a 1 percent callback rate will still translate to a significant amount of victims. With the rapid advancement of telephone technology, a person could call a million people at once without much effort.

© 2019 Business Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Sign Up for Newsletters and Alerts