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.
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.
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.
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.
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 are an international business person 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.
If you are not such a person and are more like everyone else, when you get a missed call from an international number that you do not know (especially a call you were not expecting), just ignore it. The sky will not fall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If these unknown international numbers often call, 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:
- Open the Phone app,
- Tap on the Menu key > Settings > Call > More Settings.
- Tap Call barring > Voice call.
- Uncheck “International calls“.
That is it: international calls are now blocked on your Samsung phone.
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.
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.
Related: American Cell Phone Companies.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.