BBBs around the country are reporting a flood of new phone scam calls. The most common begins when you answer the phone and the caller says something like;
"Oh, my headset wasn't working. Can you hear me now?" Or: "Sorry, my computer was down. Can you hear me now?"
The scam, which actually began late last year, tricks victims into saying "yes"--an affirmative command swindlers can record and use to authorize unwanted charges on a phone or utility bill or credit card.
They may be from human operators or often they come from very advanced unsolicited robocalls (recorded messages) from "an employee" of a home security agency, cruise line, or social security firm.
Criminals may also use phrases like, "Are you the lady of the house?"; "Do you pay the household telephone bills?"; or "Are you the homeowner?"
If you say 'yes,' it gets recorded and they may come back later and claim that you have agreed to some product or service they are selling. After all, if a criminal already has your phone number, it's possible they may have also have personal details about you like your credit card number, cable or utility account or cell phone account number--perhaps obtained through a data hack.
As a precaution, always check your account statements for unfamiliar charges, and call the billing company to dispute any payments you didn't authorize.
Police in several states are warning folks to simply hang up if an unknown caller asks "Can you hear me?" It isn't rude...it's protecting yourself!