Canada’s national telecoms are warning subscribers to avoid answering or responding to phone calls from unknown international numbers.
The number could be part of a phone scam called the ‘Wangiri Fraud,’ designed to keep callers on the line for as long as possible in order to run up costly long-distance charges.
According to a February 9th, 2018 Telus forum post, victims first receive a call from an international number that will ring “just long enough for the number to appear on their caller ID.”
“These numbers are premium-rate overseas phone numbers that charge high rates on top of your normal long-distance rate,” said dru, a community manager at Telus, in the February post. “Once the scammer has you on the line, they will try to make you stay on the call for as long as possible to run up the charges.
Telus, Bell and Rogers all recommend not calling back unknown international numbers.
Hey! We're well aware of this issue and our team is working on it as we speak. Feel free to block those numbers and not respond if you don't recognize them. You can also check out this blog post about the issue: https://t.co/oseLvUlwxF
— TELUS Support (@TELUSsupport) February 13, 2018
“Don’t call back,” said dru. “If it’s a number you don’t recognize, confirm that it’s someone you know.”
Dru also said that the Telus fraud management team is “actively looking for and blocking specific international number ranges to protect” subscribers.
To Bell customers: If you receive a call from an unknown international number that immediately disconnects, please don’t call the number back. It could be part of what’s known as Wangiri fraud and linked to a scam.
— Bell (@Bell) November 3, 2017
The Rogers Helps account also issued a recent warning about Wangiri fraud on February 13th, 2018.
To our customers – if you receive a call from an unknown international number that disconnects immediately, it could be part of a worldwide scam known as Wangiri fraud. Please do not call the number back.
— RogersHelps (@RogersHelps) February 13, 2018
The term Wangiri is derived from Japanese; it literally means “One and cut,” in reference to the fact that the phone only rings once or twice before the line disconnects, priming potential victims to call back.
Update 13/02/18: Article updated to reflect that Bell and Rogers both warned of Wangiri fraud in November 2017.