Your phone rings once. The number looks familiar, same area code, same exchange as your local area, so you pick it up. Hello? No one responds on the other end of the line. You repeat “hello?” and it feels like a bad connection or that they can’t hear you on the other end, so you hang up. Apparently, you missed the call or hung up by mistake because it only rang once. Just to be safe, you will return the call to make sure it wasn’t important.
Do NOT call back.
This is what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is calling the “one ring” or “Wangiri” scam and it can cost you hundreds of dollars. The term ‘wangiri’ originated in Japan and means “one (ring) and cut” and is an international scam hitting callers on both land and cellular lines. The targeted individuals are then using the callback feature to ring back to the missed number and are actually being connected with a number outside of the United States. The charges are then incurred for per-minute international calls and will show up on your bill as a premium service, an international call, or a tolled call.
Taking it one step further, you may get a voicemail from these individuals who are calling from local numbers, that say you have a package to pick up or about a relative that is sick and lives in the area. We are used to thinking that we should be on guard when we actually hear a robocall or a person on the other line telling us that they have the information we need. This is a new way of getting victims to react without ever actually speaking with someone.
If you are the victim of this one-ring scam, you should immediately work with your phone carrier to address the charges. Then report the call by filing a complaint with the FCC – this will never come with a charge to do so.
Remember, before you call back an unknown number, verify that it is not international even if it looks legitimate on the screen. If someone does ring and you miss their call, wait for a voicemail. If it is that important, they will likely leave a message with details that might aid in deciphering the situation.