‘One ring phone scam’: Public warned not to answer calls from unknown numbers

June 19, 2023 - 11:28 AM
Photo by Ron Lach

Callers from unknown numbers might come from individuals operating a scam.

The Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) on June 12 cautioned Filipinos from returning calls from unknown numbers, especially if the area code is from another country.

Dubbed the “Ong Ring” Phone Scam, the PNP-ACG explained that it works by using an “autodialer” to make mass calls to potential victims.

Eventually, recipients will be prompted to return calls to premium-rate numbers, thus charging them exorbitant rates.

“The One Ring Phone Scam typically works by using an autodialer to make mass calls to a large number of phone numbers, often using spoofed phone numbers. The scammer will allow the phone to ring only once, then disconnect the call. The recipient will then receive a missed call notification, which may prompt them to call back the number,” the PNP-ACG said.

“When the victim calls back the missed call phone number, they will be connected to an automated message that urges them to stay on the line or connect to a premium-rate number. These premium numbers charge exorbitant rates for every minute that the call is active, and the fees are typically hidden in the fine print of the scam,” it added.

Some scammers will also pretend to be a representative of a bank, a government agency, or any legitimate organization, according to the anti-cybercrime unit.

“In some cases, the victim may receive a message from a scammer pretending to be a representative of a legitimation organization, such as a bank or government agency, to prompt them into giving sensitive information such as their credit card number, social security number, or other personal identifiable information,” the PNP-ACG said.

The anti-cybercrime group listed the following tips on how to avoid this scam:

  • Don’t answer or return any calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • Before calling unfamiliar numbers, check to see if the area code is international.
  • If you do not make international calls, ask your phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.
  • Always be cautious, even if a number appears authentic.

To report scams or suspicious activities online, Filipinos can contact the PNP-ACG through their hotlines and on their social media accounts.