Why Answering the Phone at Night Could Cost You Cash

Sleepy man answering the phone
Photo by ArtOfPhotos / Shutterstock.com

If you receive a phone call in the middle of the night, think twice before calling back.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warns that scammers are calling people in the middle of the night and typically letting the phone ring one or two times — a robocall scam known as “One Ring” or “Wangiri,” Japanese for “one ring.”

The calls — which originate from the “222” country code for Mauritania, located in Africa — have been “widespread” in New York and Arizona, the FCC says.

According to the commission, scammers are targeting specific area codes, which are receiving bursts of these calls in an evening:

“These calls are likely trying to prompt consumers to call the number back, often resulting in per minute toll charges similar to a 900 number. Consumers should not call these numbers back.”

Calling back could cause you to ring up a toll that the FCC says “is largely paid to the scammer.”

The federal agency also warns that robocall scammers often use a technique called “spoofing,” which enables them to hide the number they are calling from. So don’t count on seeing the “222” area code as a warning that you are being scammed.

The commission also offers several tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scheme. For starters, avoid calling back numbers you do not recognize, especially those that look like they arrive from overseas.

If you never make international calls, the FCC urges you to consider talking to your phone provider about blocking all outbound international calls so you don’t accidentally call back a scammer and ring up a toll. You also should keep a close eye on your phone bill to make sure you aren’t being charged for calls you don’t recognize.

Finally, if you have received one or more of these calls, stop by the FCC website and file a complaint.

Fighting back against robocalls

In recent years, the problem of robocalls has become epidemic. As we reported in the fall, a then-record-high 4.4 billion robocalls were made nationwide in September 2018, according to the YouMail Robocall Index.

By April of this year, that number had jumped to 4.9 billion.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to fight back against this scourge. In fact, while today’s cutting-edge technology makes robocalls possible, it also offers ways to prevent robocalls from reaching you.

Several companies offer software to help you block these calls. One is Nomorobo. As we detail in “7 Ways to Quickly Stop Robocalls in Their Tracks“:

“Nomorobo is a tool you can use to block robocalls. The technology identifies and answers robocalls so they don’t go through to you. The software is free for landlines and $1.99 a month per device for cellphones.”

How do you combat robocalls? Share your tips in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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