CHARLOTTE, NC. Sometimes you have to wonder. Will there ever come a day when the public at large is free of robocalls and telephone scams? We live in a day and age when advanced communications technology can do things we never dreamed of as recently as five years ago. But it seems odd that scammers and “phishermen” continue to remain ahead of the IT curve. Sneaky scammers keep raising the bar, with constant innovations like the current One-Ring telephone scam.
Seniors in particular: Be aware of robocalls and telephone scams. Be VERY aware.
Even worse: The most vulnerable “marks” are seniors. That’s one reason they are the most targeted audience of phone scammers. Among the most common con games are telephone scams. Typical scams here aim at seniors with offers of free medical alert systems.
No one is immune to telephone scams
But no one is immune to the robocall menace. Even the most cautious among us can easily be duped if we are not careful. It only takes one time to get caught up in a nightmare of harassment and hassles that can take months to resolve. If then.
Consider that Americans received more than 4 billion crank calls in June, 2018 alone. Since October, 2013 one of the most infamous, and successful, telephone scams has been the “IRS Scam.” In this one, unsuspecting victims are told they owe immediate cash to the Internal Revenue Service due to an error in their tax filings.
That neat little con game has netted thieves more than 14-million dollars. Believe it or not, it is still working, even though the word is out. Fortunately, the solution to this scam is simple. Or it is if you know that the real IRS will never request immediate payment over the phone. Despite that, some people still manage to get duped.
Another favorite con game involves constant calls from harassing debt collectors. This one is easily stopped as well. But it does take a little more effort on your part. If you send a written letter asking a debt collector to stop calling you, they can no longer legally call you. Most people don’t know this. The downside? You’ll still have to deal with that debt issue sooner or later.
The notorious One-Ring scam can really cost you
All of which is leading up to the latest fraud tactic. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calls this one the One-Ring Scam. The strategy is simple for criminals because they don’t even need to speak with someone on the other end. The trick here: Scammers (or robots) dial a number, get one ring and then immediately hang up. Hence the name of this scam: The One-Ring Scam.
After that innocent One-Ring, the recipient sees the number and instinctively returns the call. In the process, recipients open themselves up to ridiculously expensive toll fees, charged without their knowledge.
Most of these One-Ring cons have been limited to New York and Arizona so far. But widespread nationwide scamming is only a matter of time should this devious telephone scam start to succeed in significant numbers.
To date, most of the robocalls generated to launch this bit of telephone skulduggery come during the night. Victims wake up to discover they received a call, and automatically return the message.
According to authorities, robocalls frequently use the number 222. That’s the country code of the West African nation Mauritania. Officials warn that whether the number is associated with Mauritania or some other country is beside the point. It’s still a scam. So unless consumers are expecting a call from another country, the best advice is to ignore it and do not redial.
Simply hitting the “ignore” button on foreign calls is easiest and most efficient method of avoiding international scammers’ robocalls. Sadly however, not all scams are so obvious.
Call spoofing: Beware that fake local area code
“Call spoofing” is another less recognizable common strategy. And in many ways, it’s even sneakier. In this case, the scammer dials from a fake number, usually one that shares a local area code with the recipient. Thinking it is a local call from a friend, relative or business, the scammer can easily dupe an unwary victim once the victim picks up.
How to avoid most telephone scams and robocalls
Simply put, the best way to avoid cons, robocalls and other assorted telephone scams is to ignore calls unless you recognize the number or the person who is calling. The once popular Do Not Call list doesn’t seem to work too well anymore. But getting your number on the list can help. A widely-popular free app / program is NoMoRobo which can stop a significant number of these automated scam calls. It’s free for those who still use a landline, but costs $1.99 per month, per device on cellphones or smartphones.
Intrepid scammers continue to work their way around that legislation. So today, legislators and phone companies must once again come up with a more efficient and reliable way to crack down on robocalls and telphone scams. Including that sneaky — and potentially costly — One-Ring scam.
— Headline image: Image via Pixabay.com. In the public domain.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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