Katie Pelton

We have all received unwanted phone calls and they seem to never stop. A recent report by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said nearly half of all calls placed to cellphones in the U.S. in 2019 will be unwanted calls. Recently, the FCC put out a warning about a scam that is making a rapid return. It’s called the “one ring scam.” Your phone will ring, but the caller will hang up before you can answer it.

“What they’re hoping is your phone will ring once, you’ll be curious who it is, so you’ll pick up the phone and call it back,” said Shirley Rooker, the president of Call for Action, Inc. “Be very careful because you may end up with a very expensive phone bill if you do that.”

The scammer is hoping you will call the number back because you will charged for an expensive international phone call. Call for Action said the majority of the fee that shows up on your phone bill goes to the scammer.

“Particularly, look out for the area code 222, which is in West Africa and it’s used in these types of scams,” said Rooker.

“If you have Caller ID just don’t answer it if you don’t recognize the number,” said Rooker. “Be very careful if it looks like it’s a number in your neighborhood.”

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About 90% of unwanted calls look like they are coming from a familiar area code. It’s called “neighbor spoofing” and the technology allows scammers to make it look like their phone call is coming from your area code, even if they are calling from the other side of the country. I get calls like this every day and while it’s tempting to answer since the calls look local, I never do. I let them go to voicemail and nine times out of 10, it’s a scammer.

I know many of you are on the National Do Not Call Registry to block telemarketing calls. If so, Rooker says you should not get any kind of marketing calls from companies that you don’t already do business with.

“You should be immediately aware and red flags should go off because that company is breaking federal law by calling you. They’re not utilizing the do-not-call list,” said Rooker.

You can sign up for the list at www.donotcall.gov. You can also report unwanted phone calls on the website. You can also reach out to your phone company to see what services they offer to block scam calls.

Rooker shares other ways to protect yourself from scams. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. Don’t trust the number on your Caller ID. Don’t give out any personal or financial information unless you know who you are dealing with.

If you think you can help people spot a scam or deal with a complaint about a business, you may want to join our Call for Action team. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, you can call 719-457-8211.

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