Maybe Don’t Answer Calls From These Area Codes If You Don’t Want To Be Scammed

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Yesterday, in honor of National Consumer Protection Week, we highlighted four scams consumers should be aware of in order to keep their money. One way to avoid some of these telephone-based scams is to just avoid picking up the phone at all when receiving calls from certain area codes.

Because many scams revolve around contacting targets by phone, reports that knowing where a call is coming from could keep unwanted hands off your pocketbook.

Inc. points out three phone scam variations that rely on consumers’ curiosity and need to find out who has called them.

In one variation, the fraudster calls a target, but hangs up before anyone answers. A second scheme, involves the scammer playing a pre-recorded message — often of someone in distress — when the target picks up. The final version involves a schemer sending a text message to the potential victim explaining that he or she is in danger and needs help.

For many victims, the desire to help or to know who has called results in a response, and that’s what the fraudsters are banking on.

While many of the numbers used by fraudsters appear to be from the U.S., Inc. reports that most aren’t. Instead, schemers have learned to use numbers from countries that also have the same country code as the U.S. — +1.

As a result, many of the calls are international and are not covered by traditional phone plans. This means victims will be on the hook for extra fees.

Common international area codes used by fraudsters include:
242 – Bahamas
441 – Bermuda
784 – St. Vincent & Grenadines
473 – Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique
876 – Jamaica
284 – British Virgin Islands
345 – Cayman Islands

Additionally, Inc. points out that not all calls are from international scammers, some are from premium numbers — often similar to 900-numbers — for which the target will end up paying significant fees, sometimes up to $20.

So how do you avoid these simple scams? Don’t return calls or texts to numbers you don’t know. Inc. also notes that if a stranger were really in danger at an unfamiliar location, the chances they randomly called you are slim.

Inc. provides an extensive list of area codes in which consumers should be wary of calling or texting. You can find a full list here.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.