The number of different scams and con attempts in today’s technology-driven age appears to be never-ending. From credit card fraud to emails masking as your bank, phone calls suggesting family members are in danger and require your assistance to attempts to come across as the IRA.
We have to be incredibly careful and diligent regarding what information we are giving out, and who we are giving it to.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a warning about a scam currently on the rise in Canada and the United States that doesn’t require any personal information, just a simple answer to a seemingly innocent question – ‘Can you hear me now?’
The scam itself actually isn’t anything new, in fact, it’s been used in the past, they report, to trick companies into making purchases like office supplies that they never intended to purchase. The difference now is that the con artists are no longer targeting businesses, they are after individual consumers.
How does it work? Someone calls you from an unfamiliar number. When you answer, rather than introducing themselves or trying to spark up a conversation, all you will hear on the other end of the call is someone asking the question ‘Can you hear me now?’ or ‘Can you hear me clearly?’. This is one of those questions that we are all quite used to in the age of the cell phone with the risk of questionable or unreliable service, and it banks on the fact that we will instinctively answer ‘Yes.’ While it may seem like nothing more than an innocent question, the con artist on the other end records the answer, which can later be edited and used as a consent to make a major purchase. In some cases, the caller will go as far as making statements like ‘I’m having trouble with my headset,’ or making shuffling noises as if they are fumbling with their equipment.
The Better Business Bureau of Southfield, Michigan warns that there is often more to the scam than just this one conversation. In fact, you likely weren’t targeted randomly. “Keep in mind, a scammer may already have gotten their hands on some of your personal information, such as credit card numbers, which they can use in tandem with your recorded affirmation to push through charges,” they advised.
To avoid falling victim to this scam, the BBB recommends the use of Caller ID to screen your calls, avoiding answering unknown or unfamiliar numbers. If you do answer a call and find yourself being asked any version of the question, do NOT answer the caller. Instead, disconnect the call then report the number to the BBB Scam Tracker to warn others that may receive a call from the same number. The BBB also shares this information with law enforcement agencies in an effort to help crack down on these scammers.
If you came across this article a little too late, aware that you have already received this call and answered ‘yes,’ the BBB recommends monitoring your bank and credit card statements as well as telephone and cell phone bills for any changes or unauthorized charges.