Remember the “Can you hear me now?” advertisement for Verizon?
The call starts out with the innocuous: “Hi! This is Josh from the customer service department. Can you hear me OK?”
The BBB said for most people, it’s nearly instinctive to answer “yes,” but you shouldn’t answer.
The scammers take your answer and edit the audio to make it sound like you’ve authorized a major purchase over the phone.
The BBB said more than half of the reports to its scam tracker the last few days of January were about this trick, which they call “cramming.”
You might also get an “I’m having trouble with my headset” to make it seem more realistic, but it’s just like those silly voicemail message people who think they’re funny have: a recording.
Below are some tips from BBB about how to protect yourself against phone scams:
- Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple “yes” answer.
- Screen calls and consider not even answering unfamiliar numbers. If it’s important, they will leave a message and you can call back.
- Make a note of the number and report it to bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others. BBB also shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so every piece of information is helpful.
- Consider joining the Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov) 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. That may help you more quickly notice the ones that could be fraudulent.
- 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.