FCC Proposes Rule on “One-Ring” Scams

The Federal Communications Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on April, 28, designed to protect Americans from “one-ring” phone scams. These scams occur when a consumer’s phone rings once from an international number, which charges large fees when called back.

According to the notice, “One-ring scammers call American consumers from a foreign country with a number that appears to come from the United States. After a single ring, the scammer hangs up, enticing the consumer to return the ‘missed call.’” They often occur at night and in a quick series as to appear urgent. Scammers are also known to leave a voicemail “with a false pretext” to incentivizing return calls from their targets. 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urged Americans to stay vigilant against the calls. “One-ring scams are annoying and pernicious, waking up many Americans with confusing calls in the middle of the night and tricking them out of their money if they call back,” said Pai. “With this effort, this agency shows it’s serious about aggressively combating this scam. I look forward to hearing from the public about their ideas for putting an end to this. And in the meantime, I urge them not to call back if they get calls like this.”

This proposal follows the FCC’s Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act), passed in May 2019, which was designed to further protect Americans from the one-ring scams. Its methods for scam deterrence include allowing service providers to block calls likely to be associated with one-ring scammers, working with federal, state, and foreign law enforcement and government agencies to combat the scams, and enhancing the FCC’s work with call-blocking services. 

The FCC’s efforts to stop the scams are already paying off. It sent letters to gateway providers suspected of facilitating COVID-19-related scam robocalls, warning them that “if they did not stop such traffic,” then U.S. voice service providers would be authorized to block all calls entering the U.S. via their gateways. Those providers allegedly stopped carrying the scam robocalls within 24 hours after the FCC’s warnings.