“Can You Hear Me?” “Yes” Scam Calls Increase, Still Trick Consumers

July 19, 2017

“Can You Hear Me?” “Yes” Scam Calls Increase, Still Trick Consumers

(New York, NY)  The “Can You Hear Me?” scam that surfaced earlier this year is continuing and growing dramatically. This summer, hundreds of consumers are reporting “yes” scam calls to Scam TrackerSM, the online BBB tool for reporting and learning about trending scams. These reports show that the scammers’ methods have evolved. They are effectively getting consumers to say “yes” and to divulge personal and sensitive information that can be used to make unauthorized charges or commit identity theft - even when target consumers have already heard of the “can you hear me” scam. 

“If you answer the phone, say hello, but don’t say ‘yes’ without thinking first,” cautions Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York, adding, “To help protect yourself and your identity, ask questions rather than give answers to unsolicited callers and when in doubt, just hang up.”

Since April 1, 2017, over 1,500 “Say Yes” scam reports have been filed with BBB’s Scam Tracker in the United States. Some of the tactics that scammers have reportedly used to record the consumer saying “yes” include: 

  • Asking simple questions such as “Is this the head of the household?” or asking to verify the answering person’s name – e.g., “Is this Mary?”
  • Offering prizes, trips or lottery winnings followed by questions attempting to get consumers to say “yes”
  • Claiming to represent an organization such as a bank, health insurance provider, or a charity in order to validate consumer data
  • Asking whether the caller has dialed a wrong number
  • Claiming that an auto warranty is expiring and asking if the consumer wants to renew
  • Calling the same person repeatedly, often from different phone numbers, and then asking if the consumer would like the calls to stop, or prompting the consumer to press “1” or “9” to verify a stop-calling request
  • Pretending to call about a survey, and posing a question designed to get a “yes”
  • Saying the call is about an order or delivery, and asking questions
  • Offering information about jobs and prompting the consumer to reply
  • Calling in the middle of the night with rapid-fire questions designed to get a “yes” from a drowsy person

A few of the consumers posting instances of this scam have reported that their financial accounts were accessed by unauthorized parties after they experienced “yes” phone scam calls. Scammers may be able to use “yes” recordings to “cram” bogus charges onto bills, get unauthorized access to financial accounts, or to commit fraud in other ways. In an interesting twist, several consumers report that they have received a “yes” scam call at a work number.

BBB Serving Metro New York suggests:

  • Do not answer your phone if you don’t recognize the telephone number.  If it’s a legitimate call, they’ll leave a message. 
  • Hang up immediately if the caller asks any question designed to elicit a “yes.” 
  • Do not press numbers such as 1 or 9 or say “yes” to be removed from their call list, or to reach a supervisor.
  • Do not confirm or give out personal, sensitive information including bank account and Social Security numbers, home address, etc. to any strangers who may call, even those purportedly representing a business. Often, a scammer will state some correct information such as a person’s first name or the last four digits of a Social Security number, and then ask to verify the complete information. 
  • Never give in to pressure or threats. These are signs that the caller is probably a scammer.
  • Monitor your phone, credit card and other financial accounts for unauthorized charges, particularly if you accidentally answer “yes” during a suspect call. Report and challenge any unauthorized charges or account transactions in writing, as soon as you notice them.
  • Make a note of the scam call phone number and report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission
  • Ask your phone provider about blocking robocalls or unwelcome calls from the same number. Note that scam callers may place live calls and use spoofed or invented phone numbers.
  • Report the scam at bbb.org/scamtracker.

About BBB Serving Metropolitan New York

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 170 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the regional, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.  The BBB Serving Metropolitan New York was founded in 1922.  Please visit newyork.bbb.org or bbb.org for more information.

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