If you get this call, don’t call back
SITTING on my couch last night, I received a call that my iPhone reliably told me was from Cuba.
I like to think of myself as a worldy kinda guy but I have never been to Cuba, nor do I know anyone there.
I was holding my phone at the time but decided not to answer. After a few short rings, the caller hung up.
Why was I getting pranked from Cuba? Because they want my money.
It was almost certainly something known as a "wangiri scam" after a Japanese word which loosely translates to "one ring and cut".
This week the country's top consumer watchdog has warned about their increased prevelance in Australia. There has also been reports of the scam popping up all over the world.
Speaking to the ABC, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's deputy chair, Delia Rickard, recommended ignoring calls from country codes you don't recognise.
"What typically happens is the scammer calls for just one ring then cuts the line leaving a missed call on the victim's phone," she said.
"Then the victim calls the number back and they could be put on hold, have music playing or they could try and chat."
The objective is to keep you on the phone for as long as possible.
The scammers often call on premium lines similar to those used by psychic hotlines or sex lines that can end up costing you a small fortune.
According to the ACCC's ScamWatch, Australian have lost more than $48,000 to premium service scam calls in the past year.
Aussie mobile providers like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have cracked down on third party billing, meaning companies can no longer entice you into buying games or sending texts by adding the cost onto your phone bill.
But simple run-of-the-mill wangiri calls are different and Ms Rickard said with scams like these, the perpetrators can find a way to get some of the money charged for calling the premium line.
"There's a complicated billing structure but people are charged more when they're communicating over these numbers and the money makes its way back to the scammer," she said.
News.com.au has contacted Telstra, Optus and Vodafone for comment and will update with their response.
My call came from Cuba but others have reported being bombarded by calls from Slovenia.
One Brisbane family said their 10-year-old son received a barrage of missed calls on his week-old Optus phone from a number starting with +247, coming from an island off the west coast of Africa.
When the family eventually called back, the line was answered by a woman who did not speak English and wouldn't answer their questions, the ABC reported.
They're still unsure how much the call cost them, but it's always worth talking to your mobile provider to see if they will cancel the charges.