Missed calls / SMS from unknown numbers

You missed a call or an SMS from an unknown number, and so you decide to contact it back.

Description of the fraud

  • You’ve received an SMS from an unknown foreign number telling you that an MMS is waiting to be consulted but that you must provide a password to a toll number to open it. This SMS could also inform you that your package is waiting at a relay point or that you’ve won a prize and that you must call a toll number to know more.  
  • Your phone rings, an unknown number appears, and you pick it up and the caller hangs up or you didn’t have time to pick up. In both cases, you are curious and decide to call the number back. Once you do, though, you reach a representative who tells you to call a different number -- which typically begins with (08 99) -- to claim a supposed prize or complete some administrative process. You call this number and reach another representative. What you don’t realise is that it is a toll number, and that the representative is trying to keep you talking as long as possible to get the most money from you.
  • There are machines that automatically dial random phone numbers. You unwittingly receive a call from one of these machines, but it ends too soon for you to speak. You call back, but what you don’t know is that the number is heavily taxed. This is called a “ping call” (voice spam, missed call fraud).

How to avoid the fraud?

  • If you don’t know the number and the person hangs up immediately, do not respond.
  • Don’t rush to call the number back, thinking that you’re missing an opportunity, a gift, or the chance to pick up your package. And always remember: if you have not played any game you cannot win, and if you have not ordered anything you cannot receive any package.
  • Be suspicious of offers that ask for a payment for you to receive your winnings, even if it’s just a small amount.
  • If you are uncertain over a foreign number, consult the taxed phone numbers directory to know the tax applied and the company associated with the number. In the case of abusive practices, it is possible to report the number directly to the directory.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.