The easier technology becomes, the more crafty scammers and hackers become. Smartphones have opened up a whole new world for scammers, especially since people are using their phones to do much of their commerce and bill paying nowadays.
They will quickly introduce themselves, or their business, and then will pop a question on you:
“Can you hear me?”
Nothing unusual, right? Well in fact, answering this question can have very negative consequences.
You see, the goal of the scammer is to simply have you say “yes” or some variation of agreement. They record your response and will use it later in devious manners. The call will somehow end uneventfully and you likely won’t think much about it, nor much about the “yes” response you gave to a seemingly harmless question.
So what does the recorded “yes” end up getting used for? In some situations they use it to buy products and/or services. Apparently they will call later and try to sell you something like home security or cruise line tickets. When you deny that you made these purchases, they proceed to insert your previous “yes” recordings and then threaten to sue and take you to court if you don’t pay. Many people, especially elderly, will become frightened and will actually just end up paying whatever the cost is.
The other way scammers use the “yes” recording is to use it for automated calling systems that credit cards or utility companies use, for purchases. For this scam, the scammer will have likely gained access to your credit card info through some sort of data breach. The recorded “yes” will seal the deal, passing any security checks and draining you of money in the process.
How can you prevent this from happening?
Check Account Activity Daily
Watch your credit card and bank statements regularly. Any unauthorized transactions should be reported immediately. You can sign up for third party apps as well. These will pull all transactions in one place. This will save time so you don’t have to log in and out of numerous accounts you have. You should contact the company right away if something doesn’t seem to add up.
Avoid Unknown Numbers
You should always be careful about numbers that you don’t recognize. If they are important, they will leave a voicemail. You can try calling back after, as usually scammers will not have people who answer the call backs. Most companies, including Government agencies will use postal mail for communications, rather than phone calls. So getting a call from such can be a red flag in and of itself.
Be Mindful Of Your Responses
Proceed cautiously when you are responding to people on the phone, especially when personal info is requested.
“Are you the head of the household?”
“Are you the homeowner?”
These can be red flags as well. Keep in mind the goal will usually be to keep you on the phone as the longer you are on, the more tactics they can try to employ to have you give up your info.
Here is Officer Jo Ann Hughes with the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia who gives the following advice:
“We really want people to hear this. Say, ‘Look, I just heard about this scam on TV’ … and to hang up.”
This can stop the scammer dead in their tracks, and even prevent them from trying to scam others if they hear this response enough.
Check out this important video on these scams, and be sure to share this information with all of your friends and family!