What Is a Wangiri or “One Ring” Phone Scam?

All day, strange foreign numbers have called your phone. They’re from a country you’ve never visited, or no friend and relative of yours lives there. Each time the digits change a bit, making it impossible to block them. They ring for just a few seconds before hanging up. You’re tempted to call them back, but you shouldn’t - it’s a scam, and falling for it could cost you dearly.

What Is a Wangiri or “One Ring” Phone Scam?

This approach, called the Wangiri Scam, relies upon your innate curiosity. Many people would instinctively return a missed call - even from a mysterious international number. And the repetitive nature of the scam (it’s not unusual to receive dozens of missed calls in a single day) adds to the intrigue and pressure.

What happens if you dig deeper? Your call is routed to an expensive premium rate number. You are then asked to stay on the line for as long as possible. The longer you hold on the line, the more money they ultimately make.

To accomplish this, the scammers rely on a mix of social engineering and psychology. Some victims have reported being told they’ve won a prize - usually money - and are encouraged to wait on the line to claim it. Others merely test the victim’s patience by subjecting them to hold music without any other incentives.

Wangiri scams originated in Japan. The term itself is Japanese for “one (ring) and cut.” And as the name would imply, it’s a genuinely international scam, with victims distributed across the world. Warnings about the scam have appeared in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and many more countries.

Victims have reported receiving one-ring calls even from developing African nations like Mauritania, Liberia, Comoros, and Chad, as well as tiny Pacific nations like the Cook Islands and Nauru (population of only 10,756).

You shouldn’t assume every Wangiri call will come from a developing nation.

How to Protect Yourself

In fact, there’s only one way to protect yourself from this scam, and it’s to refrain from returning calls from numbers you don’t recognize, particularly those from international numbers. It’s not unreasonable to assume anyone who urgently wishes to speak to you will have their digits stored on your phone’s contacts list, or will leave a voicemail or send a text message.

Another sensible assumption: If you’re deluged with mysterious missed calls, chances are other people are, too. Googling that number will typically show you if other people are in the situation, allowing you to confirm your suspicions that it’s a scam.

To sum up, in the case you receive a call from an unknown number with the international prefix, in order to secure yourself from the scam, and financial burden:

  1. Don't answer to such phone calls;
  2. Don't call this numbers back (they will appear on your missed calls list);
  3. Contact our Customer Service at 123 and/or our points of sales to report the suspected number(s);
  4. Contact AKEP @ konsumatori@akep.al, Tel: +35542259571, Address: Rruga ‘Reshit Collaku’, Tiranë.

Give the below details to the operator:

– The number(s) you suspect has called or you have called back, and the call duration;

– Your phone number and the contacting method.

To prevent inadvertent calls to these numbers, you must delete the suspected number(s) from the missed calls log.

You can also block all outgoing international calls and / or value added numbers by contacting our Customer Service.

And if you find yourself constantly prone to Wangiri calls, we suggest looking at changing your phone number, or even limiting the number to many people outside your circle of acquaintances.

Phone scammers often provide phone numbers from data leakage and marketing databases; both easily obtainable through legal and / or even illegal means.

What to do if you have called these numbers back?

We take measures to protect against such calls or other fraudulent schemes through our network's anti-fraud systems to identify abnormal call increases to very high-cost (premium rate) destinations or off-standard (odd numbers) as and blocking / restricting incoming and outgoing calls to such fraudulent call generating numbers.

However, despite safeguards and monitoring measures taken by us, other operators in Albania and operators in other countries, such fraudulent calls and schemes continue to exist. For this reason, in many cases the fight against such schemes is based on subscriber reporting and individual addressing on a case-by-case basis.

Reporting these numbers helps us take the necessary measures to increase subscribers' protection against such calls as well as prevent payments to those abusive numbers.

By getting information we have the ability to block incoming and outgoing calls to these numbers, protecting you and other subscribers.

So upon receiving the complaint / information from the subscriber for one / several such numbers, we forward the information from the customer relationship departments (or points of sale) to other departments such as interconnection or anti-fraud to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

References:

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Last Update: 24 January 2020