State consumer group warns of “one ring” scams on cell phones

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Staff | February 17, 2014

MADISON – Your cell phone rings once. No voicemail is left. You call back and are put on hold and asked to wait for an operator.

By returning that call, you just made yourself a potential victim of a type of callback fraud known as a “one ring” scam. While you wait on hold, you are being charged for international phone fees starting at around $20. The longer you wait, the more you are charged. Because the call you received started with a three-digit area code, you assumed that it came from within the United States, but it was actually placed from another country that shares our area code system, usually in the Caribbean.

The Consumer Protection Bureau at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says if you don't recognize the number, don't answer it and certainly don't call back. Companies that don't do business in the Caribbean may want to consider blocking the area codes listed below to avoid this scam.

Scammers are using call generators with automated spoofing capabilities to place calls to a large number of cell phone numbers in the United States. Area codes used in the spoofed numbers may be from:

• Anguilla (area code: 264)
• Antigua (268)
• Barbados (246)
• British Virgin Islands (284)
• The Commonwealth of Dominica (767)
• Dominican Republic (809, 829, 849)
• Grenada (473)
• Jamaica (876)
• Montserrat (664)
• The Turks and Caicos Islands (649).

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at, send an e-mail to or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

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