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Charging By the Minute

Ring…

Silence. 

Do you get that sound on your phone?  Just one ring and then silence.  If that has happened to you this month, you are not alone. The “one ring” scam has exploded across the U.S.  Currently, the number is associated with Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa, and typically, calls interrupt your sleeping hours.   It’s not by accident; the calls usually come when you are tired and drowsy, and they hope you will call them back. Some people report being left a voicemail requesting a call back to claim a prize. Others say messages are left requesting a return call about a sick family member.

Here’s the hitch: For those who choose to give in to the request, the number called is an international toll number that is charging by the minute. The caller on the other end puts you on hold for a considerable amount of time, while the minutes (dollars) start adding up. You do not realize the full scam until you receive your phone bill. 

Because the phone number begins with three digits, it could look like it is from the U.S. However, the scam circulating presently likely has the international code for these countries Sierra Leone (232) or Mauritania (222). 

Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific advises:

  1. Do not return calls from unknown numbers.
  2. Check if the area code is an international number.
  3. Block calls from international numbers by contacting your phone company.
  4. If you are left a message to return call, verify the number first before making a decision to return the call.

If you fall victim to this scam, file a complaint with the FCC and on the BBB Scam Tracker.

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Written by Roseann Freitas

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