12 dangerous scam phone numbers and area codes to avoid

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How many times have you heard the phone ring, but you didn’t want to pick it up because it could be one of those scam phone numbers dialing you?

We’ve got a list of dangerous area codes and scam phone numbers to avoid that you’re going to want to see!

Watch out for these scam phone numbers

Scam phone numbers are so out of hand that it’s gotten to the point were you need every advantage you can get to keep the robocallers and their scam numbers at bay.

In this article, we’re going to explain what’s going on behind the scenes with these scams and arm you with the knowledge to beat them at their own game!

Dangerous scam phone numbers and area codes: Table of contents 

Traffic pumping

Have you ever tried to place a call and gotten a message that the call is outside your plan and you’ll be charged a penny per minute? That’s a sign that you’re about to be “traffic pumped.”

Here’s the deal: Rural carriers are allowed under federal law to charge wireless and long distance carriers higher access fees for calls to local subscribers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports the rural carriers partner with chat lines, adult entertainment calls, “free” conference call outfits and others that are not domiciled locally. The goal is to artificially inflate the call volume into the home area codes of the rural carriers.

With inflated call volumes, the rural carriers can then bill the wireless and long distance companies an exorbitant amount and give the chat lines a kickback. That’s what traffic pumping is.

Unfortunately, the burden of the higher charge is shared by your wireless or landline provider with you — hence the warning about paying more that you hear at the start of an out-of-plan call.

If you hang up before the call connects, you’re billed nothing.

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Area codes that participate in traffic pumping are typically located in scarcely populated rural parts of a couple of Midwestern states. These two area codes in particular are notorious for traffic pumping:

Area code Location
218 Northern Minnesota
712 Western Iowa

The one-ring scam

A separate but similar scam is the one-ring cell phone scam. In this scam, crooks use robocalling technology to place Internet calls that only ring once to cell phones.

If you pick up, the robocaller just drops the line. But the bigger danger is if you miss the call. Like many people, you might think it’s an important call and dial that number right back.

Bad move. Turns out the area codes are largely located in the Caribbean and could cost you $15 to $30 between international fees and per-minute charges!

With that in mind, the FCC says you should never call back numbers in these area codes:

Area code Location
268 Antigua and Barbuda
284 British Virgin Islands
473 Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique
664 Montserrat
649 Turks and Caicos Islands
767 Commonwealth of Dominica
809 Dominican Republic
829 Dominican Republic
849 Dominican Republic
876 Jamaica

When an unfamiliar number comes in, you’re better off waiting for a voicemail to determine if you have a legitimate caller before calling it back. You can also Google the phone number itself. If the number is a scam, chances are good that others will have posted warnings about it.

How to stop robocalls

As you can see, the scammer numbers come in all flavors and from far afield. Fortunately, technology is riding to the rescue to save consumers from the nearly 48 billion robocalls that went out in 2018, according to the YouMail Robocall Index.

All the major wireless carriers make some kind robocall blocking functionality available for their customers.

Carrier Product Price
AT&T Call Protect Free
Sprint Premium Caller ID $2.99/month
T-Mobile Scam ID, Scam Block, Name ID Ranges from free to $4/month
Verizon Call Filter, Premium Call Filter Ranges from free to $2.99/month

Meanwhile, there are a number of both free and pay third-party apps that you can also use to block scam phone numbers. For a complete rundown of what’s available, see our article How to stop robocalls for good.

Of course, the best way to beat all the scammer numbers at their own game is to go the old-fashioned route: Don’t pick up the phone if the call is coming from a number you don’t recognize!

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