Warnings are circulating social media that claim readers should not call back certain phone numbers should they receive a missed call from them since they are from terrorists – possibly ISIS – who can “hack” the phone and steal your contact list and credit details, as well as charge you between $15-30 for the call.
An example of the warning that circulated in 2016 and 2017 can be seen below –
*URGENT* Careful. Please pass around to your family and friends.!! People have been receiving calls from +37560260528+37127913091 +37178565072 +56322553736 +37052529259 +255901130460 or any number starting from +375, +371, +381, One ring & hang up. If you call back, it’s one of those Numbers that are charged $15 – $30. They can copy your contact list in 3secs. If you have bank or Credit Card details in your phone, they can copy that too ! +375 is from Belarus Afghanistan.. +371 code for Lativa, +381 code for Serbia +563 code for Valparaiso +370 code for Vilnius +255 code for Tanzania. These calls may be from ISIS. Don’t answer or Call back. Please FORWARD AND SHARE this with your friends and family. PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE this. IF SOME ONE ASKs YOU TO DIAL #09 or #90. Please Do Not Dial this When Asked. Please circulate urgently. New Trick of popular Terrorists to Frame Innocent People..! There is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09. they can access your SIM card and make calls at your expense. Forward this message to as many friends as you can.In short, be careful in receiving unknown calls. The news just shown in Singapore News Channel 5 to alert all Citizens to be alert and careful…..!
The warning is loosely based on a potential (though not widespread) scam but contains much more inaccurate information than it does truth. It has also been spreading in various permutations since 2012 and has never really served as an effective warning.
To start with, what does the warning get right? Not much, though it does loosely describe a now-mostly out-dated threat where criminals would call potential victims but hang up with one ring. The victim would call the criminal back only to be stung with international call charges. It’s dubbed the “one ring” scam, but phone providers are well aware of these types of scams and victims can usually get the charges reversed when they contact their phone company to explain the details of the call. As a result the scam has never really become a widespread problem.
Additionally, the claims made in the warning that victims can be charged $15-$30 are highly exaggerated. International calls are not charged at these rates and you’d have to stay connected for some time to accumulate such a charge, which presumably no victim would.
With that said, we don’t really recommending returning a call that has a prefix or dialling code that you do not recognise.
The warning also falls very short of the mark when it goes on to describe the potential “hacking” threat, or that it’s terrorists (or ISIS) that initiate such calls. Neither of the claims are based on any truth whatsoever. You cannot get your phone “hacked” simply by calling a phone number, so the claims that your contact list or credit details could be stolen are simply false. There is also no evidence or reputable sources that we could find that would indicate that these scams are being carried out by any type of terrorist organisation.
The warning contains many more falsehoods than it does anything else, and as such we wouldn’t recommend spreading this warning.