FCC Warns Scammers are Targeting Wireless Customers using Phony Domestic Area Codes

FCC Warns Scammers are Targeting Wireless Customers using Phony Domestic Area Codes
Image: Pixabay
February 18, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently learned of a new phone scam targeting wireless consumers.

Some wireless consumers are receiving calls from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that appear to be domestic, but are actually associated with international pay-per-call phone numbers. These calls often disconnect after one ring, not giving the consumer time to answer the call and tempting them to return the call. If you receive a call like this and do not recognize the number of the incoming call, do not return the call.

If you return the phone call, you may be connected to an international hotline that can charge a fee just for connecting, along with significant per-minute fees if they can keep you on the phone. These charges may show up on your bill as premium services.

This scam appears to be a variation of an old long distance phone scam that tricks consumers into receiving high charges on their phone bills. In the past, telephone consumers have been fooled into making expensive international calls by scam artists who leave messages on consumers' answering machines or their email accounts. The messages urge consumers to call a number with an 809, 284, 876 or some other area code to collect a prize, find out about a sick relative, or engage in sex talk.

To avoid getting scammed, check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls. A simple internet search of the phone number should provide you with some information. Be aware that many 3-digit area codes (mostly in the Caribbean) connect callers to international telephone numbers. If you do not otherwise make international calls, ask your local or wireless phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.

If you are billed for a call you made as a result of this scam, first try to resolve the matter with your telephone company. If you are unable to resolve it directly, you can file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an FCC online complaint form found at fcc.gov/complaints.