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Adrian Daily Telegram: Bill Targets 'One Ring' Phone Scams

June 21, 2019
Tim In The News

WASHINGTON — A call comes through a cellphone showing an unfamiliar number. Before the phone owner can answer the call, the call ends, showing up as a missed call. The recipient of the call dials the number back not knowing that it was a robocall and that the purpose of this robocall was not to get the target to pick up originally, but to get them to call back the unfamiliar number.

This is what has become known as a one-call phone scam, because when the consumer calls the number back, the illegal robocallers collect a fee from the callback which is applied to the consumer’s phone bill.

Eliminating these scams is now the target of a new bill in the U.S. Congress introduced Thursday by a bipartisan group of members including U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.

The bill, titled the “Ending One-Ring Scams Act of 2019” would arm the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with tools to combat these scams.

According to a news release Monday, the bill would ensure that the FCC initiates proceedings to protect called consumers from one-ring scams and consider how the FCC can work with federal and state law enforcement agencies, governments of foreign countries, voice services providers and entities that provide call-blocking services to address the issue.

The bill would also require the FCC to publish a report on the status of its work to Congress no later than one year after the bill’s passage and consult with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on educating consumers how to avoid scams and incentivize voice service providers to stop one-ring scam recordings from being made.

“In my travels across Michigan, I constantly hear about the annoyance of unwanted robocalls. But not only are they a big nuisance, they can also scam our most vulnerable by tricking them into paying huge hidden fees on return phone calls,” Walberg said in a news release. “As we tackle this widespread problem, our bipartisan legislation takes important action to protect consumers from bad actors who perpetrate this type of robocall scheme.”

The FCC, in a news release about the scams, warns that many of these calls come from other countries, using country codes whose first three digits look like American area codes. Scammers can also use spoofing techniques to mask their number.

The charges that result from calling back show up on customers’ bills as premium services, international calling or toll calling.

Another version of the scam would include a voicemail urging consumers to call back to schedule a delivery or to notify the consumer of a sick relative.

The FCC advises customers not to call back numbers you don’t recognize, especially international numbers; ask your phone company to block international calls if you don’t make international calls; to remain cautious even if the number appears authentic; and to file a complaint with the FCC at if you receive these calls.

This article originally appeared in the June 21 edition of the Adrian Daily Telegram.