Why You Are Getting Missed Calls From Unknown International Numbers: What To do About One-Ring Call Scams – Here Is A Quick Primer

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I have experienced this before, and you likely have too: an unknown international number rings up your phone and then disconnects. If you are wondering why you keep getting missed calls from unknown international numbers, it is because someone somewhere is trying to scam you. It is called the One Ring Scam and here is how it works.

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You get missed calls from an unknown international number. The calls usually originate from obscure countries. Everybody knows what the international code for the USA, Canada and the UK are. But you get calls with prefixes like +675, +236, +256, etc. Some of these are countries you have probably never heard of and have no contact in. 

missed calls from unknown international numbers
One Ring Scam involves missed calls from unknown international numbers

It is called the One Ring Scam because the number rings you once and then disconnects, leaving you with a missed call. The average person has the mindset that an international call is an important one. The perpetrators of the scam are counting on this and on your curiosity. Or they are counting on you following the code of ethics that say it is proper to return missed calls.

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If you call back the number, as is expected of you ethically when you get a missed call, you will be setting yourself up to get slapped with a huge bill. Many international calls are expensive, but these numbers calling you are usually premium numbers, so calling them back costs even more.

Calling them back, you will likely hear background music playing like when a call is put on hold, or have to deal with speaking to someone speaking in a language you do not understand. The idea is to keep you on the line for as long as possible, so your bill ramps up as high as possible.

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In other words, for most people, the best way to deal with missed calls from unknown international numbers is to ignore them. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.

If you run international business services and have given your number out and communicate with people from a wide range of countries, ignoring such calls might be a bad idea. But then, if you are in that situation, burning a few dollars on a call isn’t a problem for you.

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If you do not run any international business services and are more like everyone else, when you get missed calls from unknown international numbers (especially a call you were not expecting), just ignore them. The sky will not fall.

missed call - can you block international calls on your phone?
Who is behind these missed calls from unknown international numbers?

Who benefits From These Missed Calls From Unknown International Numbers?

Dodgy telecom operators and telephone networks do. Many times, they outsource revenue generation to 3rd party marketers who initiate these schemes. Often, they are aware of it. When you call those numbers back, you get billed at premium tariffs, and these telecom operators smile to the bank. This is similar to how toll-free number scammers operate.

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The One Ring Scam is also known by the Japanese term, Wangiri, which means “One cut”. It has been around for years now, but seems to be spreading and occurring more, as struggling telecom operators around the world look for ways to generate more income.

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How To Block Unwanted International Calls From One Ring Scam Callers

The first rule is to not call back when you get missed calls from unknown international numbers, especially calls that you are not expecting. That way, you deny them the satisfaction of the income they are expecting.

Also, an app like TrueCaller can help in identifying such scam operations, as other users will likely have reported them as scam. TrueCaller will indicate this when your phone rings. If in doubt about where a call is coming in from, use Google or other tools.

If you are a business person, make it a habit to schedule your international calls upfront via email or WhatsApp, so you know when the call is coming in and from where. This is one way business services can act to limit these fraudulent calls.

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If the missed calls from unknown international numbers happen often, you may use a call blocking app to stop their nuisance. Some smartphones now come with the ability to block unwanted numbers. Check in your phone dialler app for this functionality.

Can You Block International Calls On Your Phone?

There is no universal way to block international calls on your phone. However, some smartphone manufacturers have the feature built in as a custom feature. For example, Samsung’s One UI has that feature, so you can block international calls.

Here is how to do it on a Samsung phone:

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  • Open the Phone app,
  • Tap on the Menu key > Settings > Call > More Settings.
  • Tap Call barring > Voice call.
  • Uncheck “International calls“.
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That is it: international calls are now blocked on your Samsung phone. You will no longer get missed calls from unknown international numbers. But note that doing this blocks all legitimate international calls too, so if you have legitimate international contacts who call you for personal or business reasons, blocking international calls on your phone means they won’t be able to reach you either.

Parting Shot on tackling missed calls from unknown international numbers

Do not forget: missed calls from unknown international numbers are most likely an attempt to scam. Apart from losing some airtime, it has been harmless so far. But who knows how much more malicious it can become? Stay safe.

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16 comments

  1. Thanks for the info, I’ve been waiting to see such information like this for a very long time and this explains a lot. Now I know which missed calls to ignore.

  2. Thanks for the info. Just use common sense. If it’s international call, you know it’s probably a scam. So it’s NOT worth the time picking up the phone. If my relatives are trying to call me and I didn’t pick up the phone, they will always find a way to contact me.

  3. This is helpful, but I am getting these calls from international numbers every day and they come in intervals of 10 or 15 minutes. I block each number, but it doesn’t stop; it just comes in from a different number. Call-blocking apps don’t work because each number is different. As soon as that one is blocked, it cycles to a different number. This has been going on for several weeks now… any ideas on how to stop them?

  4. I’ve been getting several calls daily from Africa & Portugal, phones set up to block unknown callers thankfully

  5. They keep calling in my mother’s phone, continuously with a different number, one after another almost 7 times everyday, morning and evening, her phone doesn’t even have a blocking system and even if there were one, how many numbers are we supposed to block they always call with a new one, I have no clue what to do. I’m mentioning a few numbers, be aware:
    +447544576059 +447394948184 +48572683410

  6. I was wondering why am international number will flash me in the first place. I usually Google the phone number or use TrueCaller to find out if the number is important.
    Thanks for sharing information.

  7. Yes, international calls cost money. So if you don’t know who’s on the other end, best not to answer, as they can get pretty expensive.

  8. I’ve been missing calls from Japan like you mentioned and it was from Serbia yesterday, that’s why I decided to check the internet.

  9. Very helpful.in Kenya,Received this +355 68 108 2121,it never called back.
    my advice,if you also are always applying /registering stuff randomly online,be careful where you give your contact information.Especially the weired sites that asks for your personal numbers.

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