Phone scammers targeting New Zealanders with 'one ring' hoax

If you have been missing phone calls recently, it could be the latest phone scam targeting New Zealanders.

The phone will ring briefly from a random overseas number, hanging up before you can answer.

The common act is known as the "one ring" or Wangiri scam.

Geoff Thorn from the Telecommunications Forum has one simple message: "If it's not a number you're expecting a call from, don't reply." 

Scammers are relying on the user's curiosity to call them back, attempting to try and keep you on the line as long as possible.

"You're being charged premium rates and you won't know that until you've got a $100 bill on your phone," Kevin Flaherty from the Citizens Advice Bureau told Newshub.

The current spike is targeting mobile phones in particular, with recent calls coming from Samoa or the small African country of Lesotho.  

"Sudan is another one. Countries where you've got no relation there, there's no long-lost uncle or whatever," Flaherty says. 

The issue appears to be industry-wide and difficult for telecommunication companies to repair. 

Vodafone says it is looking out for the suspicious international calls after numerous complaints.

"We have a team of technical experts constantly monitoring for phone and online scams, and putting in place measures to protect our customers such as blocking these numbers."

However, Thorn believes that is just a temporary fix.

"They change numbers quite a lot, so if you do receive Wangiri calls or these sorts of calls, where it rings once and you don't get time to answer it, then report it to your telco," he says.

The advice is not to call scammers back as the financial risk is far too high.