How many times have you heard the phone ring but 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 — the 712 area code, among others — and scam phone numbers that you’re going to want to see.
Watch Out for These Scam Phone Numbers
Scam phone numbers are so out of hand. It’s gotten to the point where you need every advantage you can get to stop robocallers and their scam numbers.
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: Beware of These Area Codes
- The One-Ring Scam: Watch Out for These Area Codes
- How To Stop Robocalls for Good
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 numbers, “free” conference call outfits and the like. The goal is to inflate the call volume artificially in 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.
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:
- 712: western Iowa
- 218: northern Minnesota
The One-Ring Scam
A separate but similar scam is the one-ring cell phone scam. In this scam, crooks use robocall technology to place internet calls that ring only once on 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 Federal Trade Commission says you should never call back numbers in these area codes:
- 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, 829, 849: Dominican Republic
- 876: Jamaica
When an unfamiliar number comes in, you’re better off waiting for a voicemail so you can determine if the call is legitimate before calling 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, scammer numbers come in all flavors and from far afield. Fortunately, technology is helping to save consumers from the more than 36 billion robocalls that have been placed in 2022 so far, according to the YouMail Robocall Index.
All the major wireless carriers make some kind of robocall-blocking functionality available for their customers.
Plus, there are a number of both free and paid 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.
Americans are plagued by robocalls. Some of the most troublesome are those that come from 712 area code, but let’s face it: Any spam call is a bad call, no matter where it originates from.
Hopefully, this guide will help you keep the scammers under control. Remember, the best advice is this: If a call comes in from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer it!
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