EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- Vonnecia Holmes missed two calls from the same number in the middle of the night.
"The first thing you automatically do is what you call that number back," she told WPRI's sister station WSAV.
A return call is exactly what scammers wanted from Holmes, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC issued a warning about the so-called "one ring" scam, which is targeting people in the hopes that they'll call back and rack up international charges and other premium service fees.
FCC provided tips to avoid the one ring 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.
When it comes to unwanted calls, it's not just the one ring scam. Across the country, Americans are inundated with billions of robocalls each month. Some are scams. Others are legitimate telemarketing calls.
"It's getting harder and harder to avoid them," Carolyn Carter, the deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center said.
According to Carter, laws that are supposed to protect consumers from robocalls are outdated.
"It was written in 1991 and technology has advanced since then," Carter said. "A lot of the robocallers are claiming that their dialing equipment isn’t an autodialer, so they can use it to bombard us with calls without our consent."
Now, there is a push in the nation's capital to protect consumers from unwanted calls. Proposed laws would increase penalties for illegal robocallers and would require phone companies to authenticate calls.
"It would make it harder to spoof telephone numbers that your caller id shows when you get a call," Carter explained.
To avoid unwanted robocalls, consumers should ignore calls from numbers they don't know and consider using call blocking technology.
Carter said it's also important for consumers to check contracts they have with businesses. Often, buried in the fine print, consumers consent to receiving robocalls, but can opt out at any time.