There’s a new robocall scam hitting the mobile phone scene and unlike others, this one is baiting you to call back. Dubbed Wangiri scams – Japanese for “one-ring and cut” – you will get an incoming call that disconnects quickly after one ring. If you call back, you’ll be unknowingly connected to a toll number that charges fees to your carrier. Victims of these calls have been fraudulently charged up to $50 in a matter of minutes. At UHCU, we’re committed to helping consumers avoid today’s fraudsters with the information that helps you steer clear of their (often very convincing) traps. Here are a few tips to avoid the Wangiri scam.
1. Be wary of unfamiliar international numbers
According to the FCC, Wangiri calls are usually from international numbers. So if you receive a call from an unknown international number that rings briefly and disconnects, don’t return the call. That’s the blueprint of the Wangiri scam. Exceptions to this are if you have friends or family abroad, but even then, you’re likely to recognize the country code and they’re likely to call back or leave a voicemail.
2. Keep an eye on stateside numbers too
Unfortunately, Wangiri scammers have upped their game by creating numbers that look like U.S. area codes. You could receive a call from a number resembling an area code close to yours and not think twice about returning it. Before you do that, consider how long your phone rang. If it was very brief, it’s best to wait it out and see if they call back. You can also look up the phone number online and see if it’s listed. When people are legitimately trying to reach you, they will try again and leave a coherent message.
3. What happens if you call back
If you return a Wangiri call, you’ll likely be connecting to an international line that will charge you a connection fee and per-minute charges. This will show up on your phone bill as a form of toll-calling. Because these scammers make their money by the minute, they will try to keep you on the line as long as possible. Hanging up quickly will limit the charges to your phone bill. You should report the incident to your mobile phone carrier and continue working with them to resolve the billing issues. If you think that you have been the victim of the Wangiri scam or any other robocall scam, you can file a complaint with the FCC at no charge.
All in all, the Wangiri scam is no reason to panic – just an opportunity to be cautious. Your mobile phone is part of your daily life and its benefits far outweigh these nuisances. Know that if a call seems fishy, stick with your gut and don’t answer it. People with a legitimate need to reach you will call back or leave a message.