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One Ring Phone Scam Warnings

by Brett M. Christensen


Circulating messages warn users about a ‘one ring’ phone scam designed to trick people into returning a missed call and thereby incurring per minute charges on top of hefty international call fees.

Brief Analysis

The warnings are legitimate. The FTC, BBB and other legitimate sources in the United States have issued warnings about the scam. The scammers use auto-dialers to call cell phones and hang up after one ring in the hope that people will call back.  If you receive one of these one ring calls do not call back. Refer to the detailed analysis below for more information about this scam.


SCAM ALERT! Something known as the “one-ring phone scam” is sweeping the country.

Here’s how it works: Scammers program their computers to blast out thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers. Those calls ring once and then hang up.

(Read more)

One Ring Scam Alert


Detailed Analysis

Messages currently circulating via social media warn users about a phone scam that can trick people into incurring large phone bills via international phone charges and per-minute fees for “premium” phone services. The warnings explain that scammers are making phone calls and then hanging up after only one ring in the hope that users will return the missed call and be charged accordingly.

The claims in the warnings are valid. Alerts about the scam have been issued by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as well as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Attorney General’s Office in several US states.

The scammers use auto-dialling software to call random cell phone numbers. The diallers are configured to hang up after just one ring. The scammers hope that recipients will call the number back either out of simple curiosity or because they mistakenly believe that the call was cut off.

If users do take the bait and call back, they will be inadvertently calling an international number. And, they may not realize that they are actually calling a “premium” phones service that incurs hefty per minute fees. Thus, the users may rack up a sizable phone bill, first for the international call connection and then for the per-minute premium service.  The exact costs incurred may vary depending on the victim’s phone provider and the per-minute cost of the premium call. However, some reports suggest that the user could be charged up to $19.95 for the international call and as much as $9 per minute for the premium service call.

The goal of the scammers is to keep users on the line for as long as possible. The longer the call, the more money the scammers make. The calls originate from outside the United States but have area codes that look like they are local. The bogus calls come from area codes that include the following:

268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

The majority of the scam calls originate from Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Grenada, and the British Virgin Islands.

If you receive one of these one ring calls, do not call back. The FTC advises that people tempted to call back would be wise to check the number via an online directory. The directory should tell them where the call came from.

Note that this legitimate warning should not be confused with a much earlier message that provided greatly exaggerated and misleading information about 809 area phone scams.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,