You may be tempted to return that quick, late night call you received from West Africa recently, but federal officials warn that call is likely part of a phone scam.
The Federal Communications Commission has alerted consumers of these one-ring, illegal calls that have hit metro Atlanta and communities across the country. The scammer’s intention is not to get you to answer. Instead, the calls —which originate from a 232 area code (Sierra Leone) and 809 area code (Dominican Republic)—are made in hopes that victims call back, according to an FCC release.
“If you call any such number, you risk being connected to a phone number outside the U.S. As a result, you may wind up being charged a fee for connecting, along with significant per-minute fees for as long as they can keep you on the phone,” the FCC release warned. “These charges may show up on your bill as premium services.”
Such scammers may use other spoofing techniques, falsifying the caller ID, to mask the number. Other variations of the scam rely on voicemail messages to encourage returned calls in order to “collect a prize.”
Here’s how to avoid becoming the prey of these savvy scammers:
• Don’t answer or return any calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
• Before calling unfamiliar numbers, check to see if the area code is international.
• If you do not make international calls, ask your phone company to block outgoing international
calls on your line.
• Always be cautious, even if a number appears authentic.
If you are billed as a result of this phone scam, start by attempting to resolve it with your cellphone provider. If you’re unable to resolve it that way, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
Filing a complaint:
• File a complaint online at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov
• By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL: 1-844-432-2275
• By mail (please include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible): Federal Communications Commission Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division 445 12th Street, S.W. Washington, DC 20554