If caller asks, ‘Can you hear me?’, just hang up

Phone Scam graphic
Phone Scam graphic

(WJHL) – It may sound like a Verizon commercial, but experts say if you receive a phone call from someone asking, “Can you hear me?”, just hang up.

The Better Business Bureau is sending out a warning about an old scam with a new twist. These types of calls have been used recently to lure consumers into saying the word “yes” in a phone conversation.

According to authorities, the affirmative response is recorded by the fraudster and is used to authorize unwanted charges on a phone, a utility bill or a stolen credit card. Consumers are reporting they are receiving calls about vacation packages, cruises, warranties and other big ticket items.

So far, no one has reported any money loss and the Better Business Bureau says it’s not clear at this time, how the ploy will play out over time.

According to MoneyWatch, the criminal may have already collected some personal information – a credit card number or a cable bill, perhaps as a result of a data breach. When the victim, disputes the charges, the crook can then say that you consented on a recorded line.

The BBB says this how it goes:
You get a call from someone who almost immediately asks “Can you hear me?” Their goal is to get you to answer “Yes,” which most people would do instinctively in that situation. There may be some fumbling around; the person may even say something like “I’m having trouble with my headset.” But in fact, the “person” may just be a robocall recording your conversation… and that “Yes” answer you gave can later be edited to make it sound like you authorized a major purchase.

The BBB offers the following advice for consumers:

• Use Caller ID to screen calls and don’t answer unfamiliar numbers. If it’s important, they will leave a message and you can call back.

• If someone calls and asks “Can you hear me?”, do NOT answer “yes.” Just hang up. Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple “yes” answer.

• Make a note of the number and report it to bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others. BBB also shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so every piece of information is helpful in tracking down scammers.

• Consider joining the Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov) to cut down on telemarketing and sales calls. This may not help with scammers since they don’t bother to pay attention to the law, but you’ll get fewer calls overall. That may help you more quickly notice the ones that could be fraudulent.

• Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges. It’s also a good idea to check your telephone and cell phone bills, as well. Scammers may be using the “Yes” recording of your voice to authorize charges on your phone. This is called “cramming” and it’s illegal.

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