Callback fraud is very prevalent. If your phone rings once with an unfamiliar number, you should pause before returning the call. Before returning the call, read this so you are protected.
How the callback fraud scam works
- The scam callers call your phone from an international pay-to-talk phone number (like 900 numbers in the states). The phone rings once and then disconnects.
- You see the missed call, and return it. Now, the scammers have you right where they want you. You don’t know it yet, but you are getting billed several dollars or more a minute.
- The scammers try and keep you on the phone as long as possible.
- You get stuck with a hefty phone bill for a premium rate call.
The scammers know that you may not call back an international phone number. For this reason, they call from phone numbers that appear to be based within the US like area codes 248 that go to the British Virgin Islands. They may also call from 876, a Jamaican number, 649, or 809. Other area codes that may be affected are 268, 284, 473, 664, 767, 829, and 849. There may be others that we are unaware of.
The callback fraud scammers use emotional triggers to try and get you to return the call. They might refer to a sick relative or lottery winning in order to get you to callback according to the FCC.
How to protect yourself
If you aren’t sure if the call is real, the best thing is to avoid calling it back. Here are a few tips on how you can protect yourself:
Protecting yourself from callback fraud
- Doublecheck any unfamiliar area codes
You can Google the area code to see where it is located
- Check the phone number itself
Run a web search to see if other users reported the phone number as callback fraud or spam
- Just because it is a 3 digit area code, does not mean it is within the States
- Block international calls on your phone
If you do not generally need to dial international, ask your service provider to block all outgoing international calls
Sometimes, the fraudsters will send a text message as a variation on the scam. the message may look like it is from a friend and you”ll think you are doing them a favor by calling them to let them know they have the wrong number. Be wary. I make a habit of googling any missed call number that I do not recognize.
What should you do if you became a victim of callback fraud?
There are several things you can to try and get your money back. Firstly, you can try to speak with your service provider and explain that you were a victim. In some cases, they will refund you. If that does not work, you can try filing a complaint with the FCC here.
Bottom Line: Do not call back missed calls from numbers you do not recognize before researching them thoroughly.
Download this handy FCC guide on how to avoid becoming a victim of the one ring scam.