In a world where almost everyone has a cell phone, figuring out who's calling has become pretty easy.

Thanks to caller ID, if someone from our contacts is calling, their name shows up on our screen. We can choose to answer if we know them or send the call to voicemail if we don't feel like talking.

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And if we get calls from numbers we don't know, we can just ignore them – a choice a lot of us make. For me, when it says "unknown," I usually decide not to answer.

But here's the thing: sometimes, out of curiosity, we might call back unknown numbers. It seems harmless, but we need to be careful, especially if the area code is strange. Scammers use a trick the FCC calls the 'one-ring' scam. They call you, let it ring once, and hang up, hoping you'll call back.

Grand Rapids, Oteksli Spesyvtsev / Getty Images
Oteksli Spesyvtsev / Getty Images

Surprisingly, calling back can lead to extra charges on your phone bill. Scammers make money by charging you for the call once you call them back.

It's become such a problem that some state attorney generals want to make these and other automated calls illegal. So, it's good to be cautious and not fall for these tricks!

Here's a list of area codes known to be connected to this scam. My advice is to only answer calls from numbers you recognize – if it's important, the caller can leave you a message.

Domestic Area Codes Known To Have One-Ring Scammers

  • 216: Cleveland Ohio
  • 218: Northern Minnesota
  • 332: New York City
  • 347: New York City
  • 469: Dallas, Texas
  • 646: New York City
  • 657: La Palma, California
  • 712: Western Iowa

International Area Codes To Avoid 

  • 232: Sierra Leone
  • 268: Antigua and Barbuda
  • 284: British Virgin Islands
  • 473: Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique
  • 649: Turks and Caicos Islands
  • 664: Montserrat
  • 767: Commonwealth of Dominica
  • 809, 829, 849: Dominican Republic
  • 876: Jamaica

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Gallery Credit: Matt Ryan

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