One ring and this scam's got you if you call back.
AT&T posted a blog of alerts about phone scams. One of them fascinates me. AT&T called it the "one-ring" call back scam.
"Fraudsters use call generators with automated spoofing capabilities to place calls to a large volume of U.S. cell phone numbers," according to AT&T's consumer alert blog. "The calls typically ring once. The number displayed on the recipient's caller ID is a high-cost international number, usually located in the Caribbean. If you call the number back, you're greeted with a message designed to keep you on the line, such as 'Hello, you have reached the operator, please hold.' The longer you stay on the line, the more revenue fraudsters generate."
The revenue will show up on your bill as a long-distance phone call at an exorbitant, international rate.
Same rule applies here, folks, as it does to all unfamiliar calls: never answer or call back any number you do not recognize on your caller ID, even if the area code is familiar. Let your voicemail do its job and screen your calls. AT&T said you will not be charged for receiving the international "one-ring" call-back scam call. You're only charged when you call it back.
The more you answer unrecognized calls, the more you confirm to the scammer's spoofing system that yours is a legitimate phone number (remember, the call is randomly generated). When you confirm your number is a real working number, the scammer will sell it on mass marketing lists to other scammers and telemarketers. The annoying calls will skyrocket unless you discipline yourself to stop answering them.
The less you answer, the more the unsolicited calls will taper off and eventually disappear. Scammers will not continue to solicit a number that does not generate a human engagement.