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Who’s calling now? That number doesn’t ring a bell. Hold the phone, says the Federal Trade Commission. You could be a potential victim of the growing "one-ring” cell phone scam.

Here’s how it works: Scammers are using auto-dialers to call cell phone numbers across the country. Scammers let the phone ring once — just enough for a missed call message to pop up.

The scammers hope you’ll call back, either because you believe a legitimate call was cut off, or you will be curious about who called. If you do, chances are you’ll hear something like, “Hello. You’ve reached the operator, please hold.” All the while, you’re getting slammed with some hefty charges — a per-minute charge on top of an international rate. The calls are from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they’re from inside the U.S., but actually are associated with international phone numbers — often in the Caribbean. The area codes include: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

If you get a call like this, don’t pick it up and don’t call the number back. There’s no danger in getting the call: the danger is in calling back and racking up a whopping bill.

If you're tempted to call back, do yourself a favor and check the number through online directories first. They can tell you where the phone number is registered.

If you’ve been a victim of the “one-ring” scam, try to resolve the charges with your cell phone carrier. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

And as a general rule: Read your phone bill often — line by line. If you don’t recognize or understand a charge, contact your carrier.

I’ve got to go now; my cell phone is ringing.


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Don't use your…
February 11, 2014
It is avery good feedback and advice for cell-customers.
Norma Patton
February 11, 2014
The best thing to do is to try to look at the number that is calling, if you don't know the number just don't answer. When I receive calls from people with a foreign accent, I just hang up.
February 11, 2014
Mitch, if you have an Android or iPhone, you can add the number to your blocked callers list. If not, contact your carrier and ask them to put a block on that number. I don't believe there's a charge for that service. Not if they want your business, anyways.
February 11, 2014
I've got his call and the number is 08-1363118429 this number call me many times but i never answer or call back. Thank you for informing us about this kind of scam.
February 11, 2014
got a call from someone that said their name was Adrian Robbins with the federal trade commission @ 866-996-5997 and that my wife had won $75,000 and a Toyota Corolla. They gave her a conformation number as well. They wanted a $30 processing fee.
February 12, 2014

In reply to by R.walters

The Federal Trade Commission does not give out prizes. Any call or email saying you have won a prize from the Federal Trade Commission is a scam. Delete the email or hang up the phone immediately. 

February 11, 2014
They have rung my phone at least 10x today I did accidentally call 2 back before I got this alert.
February 11, 2014
What kind of govt allows this to continue? Why not force the telephone providers to publish such numbers and allow consumers to put a block on those?
February 21, 2014

In reply to by subodh

I am all for the right for the consumer to put a block on unwanted call-numbers AND no fee to the consumer who receives calls or text messages, which are often unwanted! Verizon gives the consumer space for ONLY 10 numbers to block - rarely enough.
March 15, 2014

In reply to by 9988@VerVA

The best way I've found with any cell phone number to block those calls is to create a contact in your contact list called "SPAM" and make sure that you set that account's ringtone to "NO RING", then add whatever number that calls that you don't know to that contact and you won't ever have to worry about the phone ringing again when you get called 10x a day... let go to your voice mail because 9 times out of 10 they will never leave a message anyway, but at least you don't have to worry about them bugging you incessantly again!
March 19, 2014

In reply to by subodh

It's done by a auto dialing system and they use different numbers to dial from as well
June 02, 2014

In reply to by subodh

Certain phone switches and auto dialers allow them to spoof caller I'd. They can literally call you from any phone number they want to which makes it very difficult to trace and prosecute. Best thing to do is practice good judgement and never give personal info to anybody that calls you and asks for it.
February 11, 2014
Why doesn't the phone company BLOCK those numbers?
February 24, 2014

In reply to by Anonymous

If the government started blocking any numbers people would start complaining about the government choosing which numbers to block. Then there would be another blog about how the Gov is overstepping it's boundaries, etc..
February 25, 2014

In reply to by Anonymous

The phone companies generate revenue from people making and receiving phone calls. Phone scammers generate a lot of revenue for phone companies. They are not going to cut off revenue. Innocent consumers are not going to cut their phone service.
February 12, 2014
we get a call several times per week sometimes more the caller ID says Virginia call. The 703-829-0487. Can this be stopped
Ms. Lou
February 12, 2014
This needs to be stopped by some authority.
cheryl h
February 12, 2014
Today I recieved a call from the following number 415-546-9827 when I tried to call back, since it was a local number, I was told the number was no longer in service. I checked the number on line to learn that it was a "SCAM" for a duct cleaning services. Several reports stated they were getting 2 -3 calls a day as follow-up marketing a service.
February 13, 2014
I've gotten many calls from 876 area code, prizes, lotteries, once it was Benjamin Franklin! "Please call us back at 876-blah-blah" I told them I had to discuss with my hubby who is RCMP. I actually gave the number to an RCMP officer who called and got a machine...I know better than to call back. I think someone sold my cell number when I entered a contest but didn't want to use my home number.... They don't call much now as I stopped answering. I wish the phone companies would allow area codes to be blocked!
February 13, 2014
I have a prepaid samsung galaxy smartphone "straight talk" I only use prepaid unlimited cards, so if the scammer does try this with me, i could call them back, but they cant stick me with a bill. This might be a solution for this problem (yes u can get iphones from straighttalk now) Try that phone service and i dont think any phone scammers can touch you unless u give them the information
March 12, 2014

In reply to by ca

If you use a prepaid service ie.. straight talk metro pcs even verizon or at&t as long as it is the prepaid service then these numbers usually will not let you call them back. i keep getting calls from 786-204-4358 rings twice i pick up and they hang up try to call back and get "your call can not be completed" or "number is not in service at this time". called metro and was told the scam numbers that bill you automaticlly can not be called because of my prepaid plan. hope this info helps.
February 13, 2014
Come On FTC!!! Get off your butts and do your jobs! Everyone knows (from the NSA whistleblowers) that you, Verizon, and all the phone services can track every call (the phone companies do it for billing!) You can AND SHOULD be cutting off service to spammers and robo-callers (except legitimate info center like school closings alerts. CLEARLY, you aren't doing this because you and Verizon are getting huge kickbacks to let the scammers and robo callers continue their nefarious operations. SHAME ON THE FTC AND YOUR TOTAL DISREGARD FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND THE 4th AMENDMENT!!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!
John B.
February 20, 2014

In reply to by LarryBoston

Good for LarryBoston! When I was called by telemarketers despite being on the do-not-call list, I tried to find the calling number and was told by AT&T they couldn't identify the callers because they were using "another provider." That's baloney! Just ask the NSA... or Edward Snowden. Here are two other increasingly annoying problems: (1) the 877-area code. Comments I've seen suggest this and certain other "new" area codes have been issued allowing callers to charge the CALLED party. If true, this should be stopped immediately. (2) Pre-dawn and late-night calls (possibly from overseas) that identify the caller a "1 Unavailable" or by similar un-helpful words and numbers -- then don't speak. The FTC should be armed with the legal authority to block all such calls, wherever on Earth they may originate. If LarryBoston is right that corporate coziness with the FTC is part of the problem, it needs to end now. Here's an addition suggestion: Hire U.S.-based employees to accept consumer complaints LIVE and over the telephone. Sorry to say, the average telephone customer can't do much more with a computer than play solitaire and forward bad jokes via email. He/she doesn't even know the FTC exists, much less how to contact the agency over the internet.
February 13, 2014
received call from 216-278-0121 says it is Ohio area, Man wanted to know if I had any outstanding payday loans,,,when I ask who was calling he said never mind and hung up. When I tried to call the number back I received and automated message that the number was not in service please call back later followed by a series of numbers and a letters like 123T. not sure what this is about but sure wish someone would look into it and stop this guy.
February 13, 2014
The information is helpful, however, the key solution is to stop this kind of bill-back mechanism from being a possibility. Have FTC, other gov official branches and Telcos really look into why this simple accidental call-back action would allow scammers to bill you through a legitimate Telco company any dollar at the first place? Should Telco be considered an accessory to this type of crime? Ridiculously silly!
right said Fred
February 14, 2014
Crazy Generous
February 14, 2014
Got a call from 786-204-4358. Didn't answer but saw this missed call on my phone and called back. Got a recording saying the number you called an not be completed as dialed. Please investigate this caller.
February 14, 2014
February 18, 2014

In reply to by Irene

Unfortunately, scammers can fake the ID information that you see on your phone. That's called caller ID spoofing — and new technology makes it very easy to do. Watch this video to learn more about caller ID spoofing.

I protect Myself
February 18, 2014
Come on people. Quit crying to Authorities to solve your issues. Protect yourself. Use the information in this article to stop them from scamming you. Don't rely on the government or a get mad at a government agency for not insulating you form the bad people in the world. You cannot cry about living in a Nanny State and then cry when the Nanny doesn't protect you. The Nanny is giving you the information you need. Don't call back missed calls unless you recognize the number. its that simple. If you miss a call and its important they will either call back or leave you a message.
February 26, 2014

In reply to by I protect Myself

Well said! Was thinking the same thing myself. Simple solution, don't EVER call back ever and of you can block the number!
March 27, 2014

In reply to by I protect Myself

This solution is fine for the average person, but not for the small business. If we are on the phone and we receive a call on our business, line it would normally be in our best interest to call the number right back. Now we have to wonder if the number is a scam number or spend the time to try and cross reference the number in our database. Takes up valuable time.
July 10, 2014

In reply to by Marc

Common sense is no different for small business. If the caller does not leave a message - they are not interested enough in your service to warrant a call back. It is NOT in your best interest to call the number back, unless they request that you do so.
February 18, 2014
Another way to avoid this scam is to not call numbers you don't recognize. If my phone rings and I don't answer it in time, I just let it go. If it's important, they'll leave a message, if not, that's fine.
February 19, 2014
We can all protect ourselves by using common sense and the clear warnings posted here. A public service announcement would be helpful in informing the public as a whole. I doubt there are many people taking a proactive approach to staying informed. The FTC and phone carriers can certainly shut down scammers and provide future protection from would be scammers. We should expect some help/protection for a growing industry wide problem and our use of technology. problem
February 19, 2014
a few years ago I received a phone call from an unknown number, the person on the phone was polite when he informed me I had won a 5day 4 nights all expense paid vacation all I had to do was pay for the airfare (isn't that normally included in and all expense paid trip?). after involving the person in a 10 minute conversation about the weather and other things I told the person that it sounded like a wonderful but unfortunately my religion didn't allow me to go on vacations (twas a fib), there was silence for a moments and then a confused good
no robo
February 20, 2014
786-204-4358 just called and hung up... seems they are on the robo again.
February 20, 2014
phone number 786-607-9053 calls my home phone; I let it ring. A legitimte call goes to answering device; this phone NEVER leaves a message. It is a scam for sure
February 21, 2014
Can any one help I keep getting a call and the only number that shows up is 104
May 12, 2014

In reply to by maxx

I just had the same thing happen to me twice in the past 24 hours. I didn't answer because I didn't even hear my phone ring. I tried calling it back the first time but it said "you're call cannot be completed as dialed" I realized it was probably a scam and hung up but I just got another one 15 minutes ago. Very weird.
February 25, 2014
I received 4 calls today on my cell phone. They all had different area codes but the same prefix. (859)555-0169; (206)555-0109; (913)555-0173; (508)555-0137. Can someone tell me anything about these numbers?
March 20, 2014

In reply to by certifier

Im getting same numbers but with a 813 area code... can someone tell us something?
March 22, 2014

In reply to by certifier

I don't know if it has changed, but there used to be NO phone numbers with "555" in the middle. TV and radio programs, when they needed to use a phone number for the story, always made one up with 555. So, clearly, any time you get ***-555-**** (whatever the stars are) on your caller ID, it is a spoofed number, and doesn't exist.
October 22, 2014

In reply to by TampaBoy

the only legit numbers I know that use 555 are for long distance information
Tracfone User
February 26, 2014
Verizon offered to "Greatly reduce, or even eliminate", the deluge of robo calls I recieve. This will cost me a couple hundred a year, after the initial $200 to cancel my current service, then start up with a new phone number. Then I must order unlisted number, $5/mo., Caller ID, $4/mo, Do not accept Private Number, $5/ mo., and something else (monthly) that I have forgotten. Or, for $368 they will switch me on to services that total $168. a year additional charges forever after (there will be hikes I'm sure). Verizon suggests that I MIGHT not get as many calls! How Lovely. My guess, Verizon is heavily invested in the ROBO CALL business.
February 26, 2014
A waste of time. I wrote carefully, & clearly, clicked Post (below) and NOTHING. The phone Co will provide services (change phone # to unlisted, add caller ID , block Private #'s from ringing, for a mere $368, then $168 annually thereafter.
February 26, 2014
When I'm not expecting a call I put my phone into airplane mode. I also use youmail (alternate voicemail service) with my phone's built in "direct to VM" feature. If someone calls that isn't in my contact book they go direct to VM, hear 1 second of dead air then the beep to leave a message. This can confuse some spammers to leaving a message they didn't want to leave.