REMINDER: The random calls you should not answer
GETTING incessant phone calls from a foreign land? Even if you're a worldly character, think twice before picking up.
If it's an unknown number with an unusual country code, you probably shouldn't answer and certainly don't call back because it will end up costing you. It's likely that such calls are something known as a "wangiri scam" after a Japanese word which loosely translates to "one ring and cut".
The phone calls essentially prank your phone in the hopes you will call back at which point you might be unwittingly racking up a hefty bill.
This type of scam has become increasingly common with calls originating from places like Cuba, Africa and Latvia targeting mobile customers in Australia in recent months.
This past weekend, I received one from Morocco and Latvia.
Fellow news.com.au tech writer Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson was bombarded with calls from Latvia over the weekend.
"Argh! Getting phone calls from Latvia on the hour, every hour tonight," she wrote on Twitter.
Six phone calls from Latvia in 24 hours now. Someone is really keen for a chat, or this scam is very well funded.— Jen Dudley-Nicholson (@jendudley) August 25, 2018
Hmmm.. I got a call from Latvia as well 🤔— Lomond Wallish (@lomondwallish) August 26, 2018
Hey @Telstra what’s with all these missed calls from Latvia in the last 24 hours. Spam?— apiecefullife (@apiecefullife1) August 25, 2018
Speaking to the ABC earlier this year, 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.
But 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 - and it's very difficult for telcos to prevent.
According to the ACCC's ScamWatch, Australians have lost more than $48,000 to premium service scam calls in the past year.
So if you see someone calling from Latvia, proceed with caution.