This happens to just about everyone: your phone rings and it's some area code and phone number that you've never seen before.

Chances are, it's a scammer.

But you might still be tempted to answer it. What if it was someone you know who's really trying to reach you — should you call that number back? Or on the other hand, maybe you just want to have some fun and harass the scammer. Either way, experts say you should never do either of those things.

Keep this in mind: a scammer doesn't have to access your credit card or banking information to get money from you.

Credit cards and American money
Comstock, Getty Stock / ThinkStock

"One-ring" Scams

A one-ring scam is just that. A bad actor will make your phone ring once, maybe twice. You see the missed call and hit redial to find out who it was.

When you do that, experts say they could charge you a connectivity fee or per-minute fee for what will appear on your bill as "premium services."

Without giving them any information, you're losing money.

You Just Verified Your Phone Number

If you do answer your phone or call that mysterious number back, you've also just verified that you have a fully-functioning phone number — scammers love those and you'll probably see an increase in annoying phone calls.

Common Area Codes Used by Scammers

Meanwhile, research from has revealed which area codes are most commonly used by scammers.

They flat-out say, "You should never answer if you don’t know who’s on the other end of the line," especially when one of these area codes appears on your phone.

woman holding mobile phone with incoming call from unknown caller

Some of them are from large cities like New York or foreign countries, especially tropical islands, but a few are from remote areas like western Iowa.

  • 216 - Cleveland
  • 232 - Sierra Leone
  • 268 - Antigua and Barbuda
  • 284 - British Virgin Islands
  • 332, 347, 646 - New York City
  • 469 - Dallas
  • 473 - Grenada, Carriacou, Petite Martinique
  • 649 - Turks and Caicos Islands
  • 657 - La Palma, CA
  • 664 - Montserrat
  • 712 - Iowa
  • 218 - Northern Minnesota
  • 767 - Commonwealth of Dominica
  • 809, 829, 849 - Dominican Republic
  • 876 - Jamaica goes into detail about a bunch of new types of ways scammers are catching unsuspecting victims — their website is worth a read.

Protect Yourself

Google (or any search engine) is your friend here. If an unknown number calls you, search for it and see what comes up.

If a bunch of gibberish appears associated with that phone number, don't call back. Or, even better, perhaps you'll find that other people have already reported it as a scam.

Not just calls

Scams via text message are also becoming more and more common. Keep an eye out for things like this:

Don't get fooled: Here's 24 scam texts I received in just one month

Although some may be humorous, others appear legit. Here are 24 texts I received in just one month's time, as well as one I'm surprised I never got.

Spam texts are listed in the same order that was received.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

NJ 'perv' teachers, coaches busted in the past three years

There have been a number of educators, coaches and private teachers facing criminal charges for sexual offenses around New Jersey, between 2022 and 2024.

Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt

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