Building a Digital Defense Against the One-Ring Scam

It seems like most of us get those annoying calls from telemarketers and scammers these days. Your phone rings and rings and rings. Often, these are calls come from a lovely robotic voice informing you that you “missed an important payment.” Or, perhaps, the voice on the other end of the line is congratulating you on that “expense-free vacation” that you just won. In both scenarios, the scammer will try to get you to pay money to settle the non-existent debt or to pay for a small processing fee for that free trip. Later you discover later that you were taken.

While these kinds of telephone scams are not new, our friends at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are warning the public about a new variation that is popping up across the nation. It’s called the “one-ring” scam. Here’s how it works: you get a phone call from a number you do not recognize, and then the call drops after only one or two rings. The fraudster is counting on your curiosity – and maybe fear that the call you missed is really important. The goal is to get you to call the number back because, in reality, the scammer is calling from an international toll number. If you call back, you will likely receive per-minute toll charges ... and who do you think collects those funds? You are right if you guessed the scam artist.

So what can you do to avoid being a victim of this scam?

  • Do NOT call back numbers that you do not recognize, especially those that appear to come from overseas.
  • If you have received these calls, report the number to the FTC at
  • Frequently check your phone bill for unusual or suspicious charges

As always, if you have been a victim of an online scam, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call your local FBI office.


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