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Scam Alert: Beware unfamiliar callers with these area codes

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NEW YORK — If you receive a call or text from an unfamiliar area code, you may want to read this first.

Inc.com is reporting that the “one ring scam” that shows up periodically has resurfaced. Scammers are using auto-dialers to call cellphone numbers across the country. They let the phone ring once, just enough for a missed call message to pop up, then hang up.

Frank Dorman, who works with consumer fraud and debt collection in the Federal Trade Commission‘s Office of Public Affairs, said in an email Friday that the racket “has been going on for a while.”

The scammers are hoping you’ll call back — and when you do, you’ll be slammed with hefty charges, both per-minute and international. Many reported reaching an automated service with a recording such as, “Hello. You’ve reached the operator, please hold.”

Sometimes the scammers will reportedly play hold music or ads in an attempt to keep victims on the line while the charges add up.

The calls are from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they’re from inside the U.S., but are actually associated with international phone numbers — often in the Caribbean.

According to the FTC, the area codes include 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

Inc.com reports that there are actually three versions of this scam now:

  • Scammer calls and hangs up before anyone answers.
  • Scammer waits for the victim to answer and plays a pre-recorded message of someone in an emergency situation and then hangs up.
  • Scammer sends a text message indicating that they are in trouble.

If you receive an unexpected call or text from an area code you don’t recognize, don’t answer it. Do a Google search to see where the call is coming from. If it’s someone you know, they’ll call back.

The FTC also recommends reviewing your cellphone bill carefully and to contact your provider if there are any suspicious charges. If you are a victim of the scam, file a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

Here are the current international area codes within the +1 country code:

242 — Bahamas

441 — Bermuda

784 — St. Vincent and Grenadines

246 — Barbados

473 — Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique

809, 829, and 849 — Dominican Republic

264 — Anguilla

649 — Turks and Caicos

868 — Trinidad and Tobago

268 — Antigua

664 — Montserrat

876 — Jamaica

284 — British Virgin Islands

721 — Sint Maarten

758 — St. Lucia

869 — St. Kitts and Nevis

345 — Cayman Islands

767 — Dominica

Here are the U.S. Territories’ area codes (listed by territory):

American Samoa — 684

Guam — 671

Northern Mariana Islands — 670

Puerto Rico — 787 and 939

U.S. Virgin Islands — 340

Here are the Canadian area codes (listed by province):

Alberta — 403, 587, and 780

British Columbia — 236, 250, 604, and 778

Manitoba — 204 and 431

New Brunswick — 506

Newfoundland — 709 (879 is being added in 2018)

Northwest Territories — 867

Nova Scotia — 902

Nunavut — 867

Ontario — 226, 249, 289, 343, 365, 416, 437, 519, 613, 647, 705, 807, and 905

Quebec — 418, 438, 450, 514, 579, 581, 819, and 873

Saskatchewan — 306 and 639

Yukon — 867

Nationwide — 600 (and possibly 622, 633, 644, 655, 677, and 688)

U.S.-Canada Numbers to Beware:
Area code — 900