Be Wary of the Words “Can You Hear Me,” Because It Might be a Scammer
It seems that every time we turn around, there's some new phone or email scam working its way across the country. Scammers are always looking for a new angle on liberating as much of your hard-earned money from your pocket as they can. This scam is particularly tricky.
If you want to keep yourself up-to-date on some of the latest tactics being employed by scam artists, make sure you regularly visit the website of Rockford's Better Business Bureau. They get the latest info from the country's network of BBB offices, so you can actually be on the lookout for some of the more popular cons before they even make it to Rockford.
According to the BBB, one insidious cash-grab currently being perpetrated is called "The Can You Hear Me Scam." Here's how it works:
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. Consumers say the calls are about vacation packages, cruises, warranties, and other big ticket items. So far, none have reported money loss, but it’s unclear how the scams will play out over time, or if the targets will be victimized at a later date.
So, later when you claim that you never agreed to anything with these people, they can come back with "We have a recording of you agreeing to (fill in the blank)."
The BBB offers these tips to avoid being taken:
- Use Caller ID to screen calls, and consider not even answering 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.
Or, the next time you're on the phone and someone asks if you can hear them, just say "I can hear you." But, do it like this: