MyWireless.org is always on the lookout for wireless consumers and we want to warn you about a recent increase in online and wireless scams.
THE 'MISSED CALL' SCHEME: A NEW TWIST ON AN OLD SCAMThis scheme involves scammers calling a customer’s phone, letting it ring once or twice and then disconnecting the call so that the number remains on your call log. Sometimes they might leave a voicemail. The number shows up as a missed call and is typically a normal three-digit area code that would appear to be a U.S. number, but it’s actually an international number. For example, 809 is the Dominican Republic, 876 is Jamaica, 284 is the British Virgin Islands, and so on. When you return the call, you’re automatically routed to an international adult entertainment or chat line in a non-U.S. Caribbean island location, where you can quickly rack up expensive charges. While major wireless companies work to block suspicious numbers on their networks, and most have consumer education systems in place to identify and combat these threats, these scams originate outside the reach of U.S. regulators and wireless providers.
Tips to Keep You Safe:
- Always check the area code before returning a missed call to ANY unknown caller.
- Be skeptical about area codes you don’t recognize.
- Be aware that there are numerous three-digit area codes (mostly in the non-U.S. Caribbean Islands) that connect callers to an international phone number.
- Don’t respond to text messages or calls from unknown sources. Delete them immediately.
- If you don’t regularly make international calls, ask your wireless carrier to block international calling.
Who's Looking Out for You and What Should You Do?
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has consumer advisories oninternational and text message scams.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also provides information on phone scamsand spam.
- The National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) say these scams can potentially cost victims lots of money, and continue to monitor these illicit activities.
- All major U.S. wireless companies invest substantial resources developing and implementing spam blocking technologies so you can safely use your device with your personal and financial data secure. But as SMS and MMS messaging usage continues to increase, they recommend to always use caution when you see a suspicious message or unknown contact pop up.
- If you believe you’ve unwittingly been a victim of a scam like this, contact your carrier immediately. You should also file a complaint with the FCC and/or FTC, and report the activity to the NFIC and BBB to help save other consumers from becoming wireless call/text scam victims.