Getting bombarded with unwanted scam calls is one of the most frustrating experiences in our digital age. You’re going about your day when your phone starts ringing incessantly from an unfamiliar number

Feeling obligated to pick up in case it’s something important, you answer only to be met with an automated voice trying to sell you something you don’t need or, worse, trying to con you out of your hard-earned money.

While scam calls can come from anywhere, there are certain area codes in New York that are particularly infamous for being used by scammers. 

By knowing which area codes to watch out for, you can avoid a ton of headaches and potential security risks. So let’s dive into the top three you shouldn’t answer calls from.

The Top 3 New York Area Codes to Avoid

These are the biggest culprits when it comes to scam calls originating from New York area codes:

  1. 332 – This area code covers parts of New York City.
  2. 347 – Another code for certain NYC boroughs.
  3. 646 – The area code specifically for Manhattan.

Scammers love using these local area codes because they appear more legitimate and trustworthy to potential victims. 

After all, you’d be more likely to answer a call that seems to be from your own area versus an unfamiliar out-of-state number.

Why Scammers Use Local Area Codes

Why Scammers Use Local Area Codes

Seeing a local area code on your caller ID triggers subtle psychological cues that make you more inclined to answer. Even if you don’t recognize the exact number, a local area code seems more trustworthy than a random out-of-state code.

Con artists exploit this psychological bias by spoofing local area codes to appear like the call is coming from a legitimate local business or organization you might want to answer for.

Plus, by using actual geographic area codes assigned to populated areas, scammers can make their operations seem more authentic and established when investigated. It’s a tactic to bypass initial skepticism.

Why You Shouldn’t Answer Calls from These Area Codes

Beyond just being annoying nuisances, there are some serious risks to blindly answering calls from numbers you don’t recognize – especially from known scam area codes:

One-Ring Scams

In this con, your phone will ring once and then the scammer will hang up, leaving a missed call and a number for you to call back. If you do call back, you’ll be hit with expensive per-minute charges for an international toll number.

The charges can rack up very quickly for premium rate international numbers, easily resulting in a $20-100+ phone bill from just one call! And because you originated the call, it’s harder to get it removed as a “crammed” charge.

Traffic Pumping Schemes

These scams don’t cost you directly, but they drive up volume to certain phone numbers, which costs your carrier more money to route and terminate the calls. Those increased costs inevitably get passed on to you through higher rates and fees.

Traffic pumping takes advantage of the system phone carriers use to share access across networks. By flooding numbers with millions of calls, scammers can inflate access charges that your carrier has to pay.

Package Delivery Scams

The scammer will impersonate a legitimate delivery company like UPS, FedEx or Amazon. They’ll claim to be calling about a stuck delivery and need your personal information like address, credit card number, etc. to “resolve” the fake package issue. Their real goal is to steal your identity and payment data.

These types of scams have exploded in recent years thanks to the growth of online shopping and package deliveries. Scammers know people are frequently expecting packages, which helps sell their bogus delivery stories.

Long story short, answering these calls puts you at risk of being scammed out of your money, your private data, or both. It’s just not worth it, no matter how legitimate the call may initially seem.

Tips for Identifying Potential Scam Calls

Of course, scammers are always changing up their tactics and methods, so you can’t rely solely on area codes to sniff out every potential scam call. Here are some other useful tips for recognizing the signs:

  • Be wary of unfamiliar numbers, even those with your area code. If you don’t recognize the number, let it go to voicemail.
  • Use online reverse number lookup tools like NumbergatorPro to identify potential scam numbers before answering. These services crowdsource data on spam callers.
  • Check your carrier’s caller ID features and call blocking services. Many offer categories for likely scams, fraud, spam, etc. Legit companies will be clearly identified.
  • Watch for spoofed caller ID numbers that seem legitimate but may be masking the real caller. A mismatch between displayed info and the voice/message is a red flag.
  • Listen for strange background noise like call centers, static, echoes, or the call sounding like it’s routing through different networks – all signs of a spoofed call.
  • If you do answer and it seems fishy, hang up immediately without giving out any information or engaging further.

The bottom line is if something seems off about the call – you don’t recognize the number, the caller seems shady, it’s an obvious robocall, etc. – it’s safer to just hang up and block the number.


What to Do If You Answer a Scam Call

Despite your best efforts, a scammer may still slip through the cracks and you could inadvertently answer a scam call. If this happens and you realize the call is likely a scam:

  1. Do not provide any personal data whatsoever like credit card numbers, account information, passwords, etc. No matter how convincing their story or how angry/pushy they become, giving out personal data is exactly what scammers want to steal your identity and money.
  2. Hang up right away without further engagement and block the number immediately from calling again.
  3. Report the number to authorities like the Federal Trade Commission which has an easy online scam reporting form. You should also notify your phone carrier about any suspected scam calls.
  4. Monitor bills and accounts closely for any unauthorized charges, new accounts opened, or other suspicious activity on accounts you may have mentioned or compromised during the call.

Reporting scam numbers to authorities is important, as it helps track down and stop illegal calling operations. 

The more data that gets reported, the better authorities can analyze scam tactics and act against the perpetrators.

Here’s an example scam call report from the FTC that shows what details are helpful:

“I received a call from 347-555-1234 claiming to be from VISA about potential fraud on my credit card. They asked me to verify my credit card number which I refused to do. The caller became aggressive and claimed I was in danger of being arrested or fined for failure to cooperate. That’s when I realized it was a scam and hung up.”

By including the specific number, details about the script/pretext, and any threats or aggressive behavior from the caller, the FTC can better identify and track patterns.

Scammer Tactics to Watch Out For

Scammer Tactics to Watch Out For

Scammers are constantly updating their strategies to try and out-maneuver call blocking tools and scam awareness. Here are some of the latest tricks they use:

  • Caller ID Spoofing – This makes an incoming call appear to be from a local number, business, or government agency you may be more inclined to answer. Spoofing random domestic numbers is easy with web-based spoofing services.
  • Robocall Voice Masking – Robocall voices are getting better at sounding human-like rather than computerized, especially for the initial greeting when you answer. This makes it harder to instantly identify as a robocall.
  • Targeted Voicemail Scams – Leaving callback numbers and compelling voicemails can persuade you to call back out of curiosity or concern over an “important issue” like missed delivery, legal case, or other pretext.
  • Phone Number Recycling – Disconnected numbers often get reassigned, so your phone may start ringing with calls meant for the number’s previous owner from debt collectors, old contacts and – you guessed it – scammers.
  • Scam Call Center Staffing – Rather than just robocalls, more scams are using actual call center operators reading scripts to sound more legit and pull at your emotional persuasion triggers.

As scammers adapt their tactics, it’s crucial to keep evolving your defenses as well. Don’t let your guard down or make assumptions based on caller ID alone. Verify, verify, verify before engaging.

Protecting Yourself Long-Term

Avoiding scam calls is an ongoing effort, but there are some smart, longer-term steps you can take to reduce unwanted calls:

  • Register your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry at This cuts down on legal telemarketing calls, although scammers sadly ignore the list.
  • Use a reputable call blocking app like Hiya, Truecaller, RoboKiller, or your carrier’s built-in blocking tool. You can block entire area codes like 332, 347, and 646 as needed.
  • Consider getting a Google Voice number for general use and online accounts. This provides an alternate number that acts as an extra layer between you and potential scammers.
  • Check monthly phone bills regularly and dispute any unauthorized third-party charges, cramming fees, or suspicious activity with your carrier.
  • Freeze your credit reports at each of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Transunion). This prevents new credit accounts from being opened in your name – a common aftermath of ID theft.
  • Use temporary credit card numbers provided by services like Bank of America’s ShopSafe or Citi’s Virtual Account Numbers for online purchases whenever possible.

The key is staying vigilant, educating yourself on evolving scam tactics, using call blocking tools, and locking down your personal data as much as possible.

No single solution is a silver bullet, but a multi-layered approach of blocking tools, credit freezes, and limiting exposed data makes it much harder for scammers to successfully target you.

Case Study: The Massive Wangiri Scam

To illustrate just how sophisticated and widespread some phone scams have become, let’s look at the “Wangiri” one-ring call scam that has terrorized people globally.

Wangiri is the Japanese word for “one ring and cut,” referring to the tactic of having phones ring once before the call is terminated. This prompts curious victims to call the number back, which routes them to expensive toll numbers.

In 2012, a Wangiri scam operation based in Kyrgyzstan made a staggering 10-15 million calls to American phones per day over two months! Just by getting a small percentage to call back and rack up toll charges, these scammers were able to steal over $12 million.

More recently in 2019, the FTC cracked down on two MORE Wangiri schemes based in India that bombarded Americans with billions of robocalls. Between the two operations, US victims made over 20 million calls to the scammers‘ toll numbers resulting in over $7 million in losses.

As these stats show, just one scam type can reach massive scale with sophisticated robocalling and phone routing infrastructure in our globally connected phone system. And all it takes is a little social engineering to trick people into calling back.

No wonder authorities have such a hard time tracing and halting all the scams in progress at any given time! The Wangiri case underscores why it’s so critical to stay aware of even little scams that can snowball into mega-fraud efforts.

How to Report Scam Calls & Get Your Money Back

How to Report Scam Calls & Get Your Money Back

If you have fallen victim to a phone scam and suffered financial losses, here are some key steps to take:

  1. Report it to the proper authorities – File reports with the FTC at, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at, and your state Attorney General. The more data they have, the better they can track scam patterns.
  2. Notify your phone provider – Let them know dates, times, numbers called, amounts charged, etc. There are procedures to get authorized charges removed.
  3. Request a refund – Send a certified letter to your phone company requesting refunds for any fraudulent charges and threaten a complaint to state regulators if they don’t resolve it.
  4. Lock credit reports – Immediately lock or freeze your reports at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to prevent new accounts from being opened in your name.
  5. Dispute unauthorized accounts – If your identity was compromised, file disputes with the credit bureaus to remove any fraudulent accounts or hard inquiries.
  6. Change exposed passwords/PINs – if you gave out any login credentials, card numbers, etc. immediately change those and any linked passwords.

Being vigilant to report all details allows authorities to identify crime networks, money flow, and larger patterns tying together seemingly isolated incidents. Don’t just ignore it!

While it can be a hassle getting refunds and restoring your identity, taking these actions stops the fraudsters from more easily covering their tracks.

In Summary

Scam calls remain an aggravating daily annoyance we all have to deal with. However, by staying educated on common scam tactics, area code tricks, and red flag warnings, you can drastically reduce the chances of falling victim.

Remember, if an unsolicited call seems at all suspicious or too good to be true, it’s best to simply not answer, block the number, and report it. A little defensive proclivity goes a long way in protecting your identity, money and sanity.

Vigilantly avoid answering calls from the 332, 347, and 646 area codes in New York unless you absolutely recognize the number as legitimate. Those are among the most frequently spoofed area codes used for scams nationwide.

Of course, blocking tools, credit freezes, temporary card numbers and reducing your exposed personal data wherever possible comprise the ultimate suit of armor against phone cons and ID theft.

In today’s digital age where we’re all constantly connected, safeguarding your virtual life requires the same keen street smarts as looking both ways before crossing the street. Stay wary, stay wise and don’t let the scammers ruin your day.

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