Table of contents
- Why do phone scammers use these numbers
- Five area codes you should never answer
- 1. 876 Area Code
- 2. 473 Area Code
- 3. 268 Area Code
- 4. 284 Area Code
- 5. 649 Area Code
- What types of scams are these phone numbers used for
- 1. General unwanted unsolicited calls
- 2. Ring and run
- 3. The one-ring scam
- 4. Work-at-home scams
- How to avoid these area codes phone scams
- 1. Register your phone number on the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry
- 2. Don't answer or call back numbers that look like spam
- 3. Block the number if it looks suspicious
- 4. Block spam calls using special applications
- 5. Report suspicious numbers to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Why do phone scammers use these numbers
Scammers use these area codes because, although these numbers are coming from outside the US, they use the same country code, +1, which makes them look like they’re based in the US and thus appear more trustworthy.
You should always exercise caution when receiving a call from an unknown number, no matter the area code: scammers can use any number of area codes for fake phone calls.
Five area codes you should never answer
The most common area codes scammers use to get you to answer their calls are listed below. Scammers can also spoof phone numbers, so while these area codes are associated with other countries, the scammers themselves may not actually be based in these countries.
|Grenada and Carriaco
|Antigua and Barbuda
|The British Virgin Islands
|The Turks and Caicos Islands
1. 876 Area Code
The 876 area code is connected to numbers in Jamaica. This area code has especially been used in some lottery scams.
2. 473 Area Code
The 473 area code is associated with phone numbers based in Grenada and Carriacou. This area code is often connected to one-ring scams, which we detail below.
3. 268 Area Code
The 268 area code is used for numbers based in Antigua and Barbuda. This area code has also been used for one-ring scams in particular.
4. 284 Area Code
The 284 area code is connected to phone numbers based in the British Virgin Islands. Long a hotspot for phone scams, the British Virgin Islands also has a problem with investment scams and phishing.
5. 649 Area Code
The 649 area code is connected to phone numbers based in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Numbers from this area code, as well as the others on this list, may be used for vishing scams as well.
You may notice that all these area codes are based in the Caribbean. So unless you have personal connections in this region or are planning a Caribbean vacation, make sure to ignore numbers from these area codes—and put any known numbers from this region into your contacts so they don’t appear to be unknown when they call.
What types of scams are these phone numbers used for
These area codes are most often used for various phone scams, in which the scammer simply needs to make a call and get the victim to answer. In some cases, that’s all the scammer needs to do. In other scams, they need to do more work to convince the victim to give them money.
Keep reading to learn which scams these area codes are most often used for.
1. General unwanted unsolicited calls
The most common type of phone scam, from any area code, is unwanted unsolicited calls. In these scams, the scammer claims to be a part of a legitimate or fictitious organization offering you a product or service—usually something that’s too good to be true.
2. Ring and run
In the ring-and-run scam, the scammer claims that a friend or relative is in trouble and needs your help. More sophisticated versions may even use AI technology to impersonate your loved one directly by imitating their voice.
The scammer will then ask for money to help them. This will include questions about your bank details or money transfers or a request to call them back, which will automatically be charged exorbitant rates.
If you encounter this scam, hang up without sharing any financial information and check on the individual directly, preferably through other channels, if you want to make sure that the phone call was fake.
3. The one-ring scam
A form of robocall scam, the one-ring scam has the scammer calling you and hanging up before you can answer in order to get you to call them back. But if you call them back, you’ll be connected to a premium-rate phone number that will charge you $50 or more without anyone answering. And you won’t even find out until you get your next phone bill.
Robocalling allows scammers to make thousands of these calls in minutes, increasing the chances of someone answering and thus creating a big payoff.
If you get a call from a number without a message, it’s likely a mistake or a scam and, therefore, not worth calling back. You can also look up phone numbers online before calling them back to check that the number is legitimate.
4. Work-at-home scams
Working at home is an enticing proposition for many people, and scammers everywhere have taken advantage of this by taking part in work-at-home scams. In this scam, the scammer offers you an opportunity to work at home for yourself, typically promising high salaries. They then ask you to pay an upfront fee for your personal data, possibly for identity theft.
Once again, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
How to avoid these area codes phone scams
Thankfully, these area code-based phone scams can be easy to avoid. Here’s what you can do to prevent getting fraudulent phone calls from these area codes.
1. Register your phone number on the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry
You can register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, which legitimate companies consult to know which numbers to avoid calling. Scammers, of course, ignore this list, so if you get an unsolicited call from an unknown number, you’ll immediately know it’s a scam.
Having your phone registered with the National Do Not Call Registry is just one step. Someone can still track you with your phone number, and to prevent phone tracking and other vulnerabilities, you’ll need to take additional steps.
2. Don't answer or call back numbers that look like spam
If you don’t recognize the area code, or it’s one of the codes listed above, don’t answer or call back. If you take either action, you might get charged outrageous fees just for a few seconds. Ignore them, and if it’s a legitimate call, they’ll leave a message or contact you through other means.
3. Block the number if it looks suspicious
Of course, you can block missed scam calls in your Phone app. You just need to select the number, and on the menu that pops up, select Block this Caller. Careful, though, when taking action to block—you don’t want to call them back by mistake!
4. Block spam calls using special applications
You can also use some apps to block unwanted calls automatically. There’s a variety of apps just for blocking robocalls alone, so do your research carefully before you choose the app that’s right for you.
5. Report suspicious numbers to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Reporting suspicious numbers to the FCC will help ensure that not only you but also others won’t get scam calls from those numbers. The FCC can make policy and enforcement decisions to prevent scam callers from using certain numbers. You can also find helpful information on the FCC’s website to avoid scams.
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While scammers certainly don’t limit themselves to using area codes based in the Caribbean, these codes are a popular choice for their apparent trustworthiness. Avoiding answering phone calls from these numbers will help prevent you from getting scammed. You can also use some high-tech solutions to keep unknown numbers at bay. But above all, staying wary of unusual phone numbers will keep your money and personal information safe.
Remember to add another layer of protection to your devices by installing Clario AntiSpy.