Don't fall victim to 'Can you hear me?' phone scam - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Don't fall victim to 'Can you hear me?' phone scam

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The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about an old scam with a new twist. It's the "Can you hear me?" scam. It's long been used to coerce businesses into buying office supplies and directory ads they never actually ordered, and now, individual consumers are targets too.
Dan Buchta with the Better Business Bureau says more than half of the reports to BBB Scam Tracker have been about this one scam. It started circulating last month. Buchta says consumers report the calls are about vacation packages, cruises, warranties, and other big ticket items. So far, none have reported losing money. But it's unclear how the scams will play out over time or if the targets will be victimized at a later date. 
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.

Here's how to avoid becoming a victim.

  • Use caller ID to screen calls, and consider not 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 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 National Do Not Call Registry ( 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.
  • 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.

If by chance you fall victim to this scam, contact your bank, file a police report, and file the information with the BBB.

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