There’s nothing we hate more here at Don’t Waste Your Money than scams.
That’s why we’re letting you know about a common phone scam that pops up periodically that helps criminals steal your money.
If you call or text back the number on your screen, you could be inadvertently giving your money away to scammers.
Here’s what you need to know: You’ll get a phone call or a text message from a number you don’t recognize.
In one scenario of the scam, the criminal will hang up before you answer, which may pique your curiosity enough for you to call them back.
In another scenario, they’ll play a recording of someone crying for help or asking for medical attention and then hang up, which may also prompt you to call back. According to the Federal Communications Commission, the scammer may also tell you that you’re eligible for a prize.
In the texting version, a criminal will send a message pretending to be someone in need of help. They may ask you to call or text back.
These scams go by a handful of different names—the 473 Scam, the Ring and Run Scam or the One Ring Scam.
No matter what you call them, these scams are costly. The best thing to do is to ignore phone calls and text messages from numbers you don’t recognize.
Some of these calls originate from numbers with a 473 area code, which is the code for several islands outside the United States that also uses the +1 country code. Don’t be fooled, though, because you could end up paying more than $20 per minute if you call back. (These scams originated with pagers back when pagers were cool!)
This is just one area code that scammers use, so beware. Criminals first started with 900 numbers, then moved on to using area code 809. But with cell phones and new area codes, you probably get a lot of calls from wonky numbers these days.
Plus, there are dozens of countries that use the +1 country code, including many Caribbean countries.
Bottom line: Don’t sweat missed calls, voicemails or text messages that strike you as strange. Keep in mind that if someone you truly do know is in distress, they’ll probably call the police for help, not you.
If you do get scammed, try talking to your phone company first. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, the agency suggests.