Don't Call Back! FCC Warns of West African ‘One Ring' Phone Scam

North Texans report receiving a number of one-ring calls from 232 country code

What to Know

  • The FCC is monitoring a surge in reports of scam calls from phone numbers in the 222 country code
  • The "One Ring" or "Wangiri" scam entices victims to call back after repeated hang-ups from the same number
  • Calling back the 222-area number can result in huge phone toll charges

Last week the FCC warned of a surge in robocalls coming from the 222 country code that could hit consumers with toll charges if they return the call -- that warning now includes 232 as well after many North Texans reported receiving the calls from Sierra Leone.

The scam, known as the "One Ring" or "Wangiri" scam, begins when your phone rings once and then stops, typically during the overnight hours. The same call may repeat several times in-a-row -- the scammer is betting you'll be concerned about waking up to repeated calls and will call back to see what's going on.

That's when the trap is sprung; calling back works like a 1-900 number, running up a huge toll charge you'll see on your next phone bill. In other words, the longer you stay on the line, the more it could cost you.

In some cases, the phone call may go beyond one ring and the scammers will leave voice mail messages urging you to call back regarding an urgent situation -- such as collecting a prize or providing information about a sick relative.

The FCC's most recent warning included calls from the 222 country code from the West African nation of Mauritania. In North Texas, many people have reported receiving a series of one-ring calls from the 232 country code -- also from West Africa, but from the nation of Sierra Leone (south of Mauritania).

NBC 5 has reached out to the FCC to ask if calls originating from the 232 country code should be included in the warning and we were referred to a tweet from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai who on Monday stated, "In addition to #robocalls from Mauritania’s 222 country code, consumers should be on the lookout for unknown, late-night calls from Sierra Leone (country code 232) or elsewhere. Do not call them back!"

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Answering the calls shouldn't incur any toll charges, however the FCC advises you never call back a phone number you don't recognize. You can also check with your wireless phone provider to block outgoing calls to international numbers. And, unless you know someone in Mauritania or the Sierra Leone — you shouldn't be calling anyone with a phone number in the 222 or 232 country codes.

NBC Bay Area's James Jackson contributed to this report.

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