If you answer a phone call from a telemarketer or a stranger, beware if they immediately ask “Can you hear me?” A good response is to simply say “no.” Or better yet, say nothing at all and hang up the phone.
Otherwise, you could end up the victim of a phone scam.
That’s sage advice from the Better Business Bureau. The organization is warning Americans that the “Can you hear me?” phone scam — once used to trick businesses into office supply purchases — is making the rounds again. But this time, it’s targeting consumers.
If you deliver an affirmative response to the caller’s question, then they have a recording of your voice saying “yes,” which could be fraudulently used to sign you up for an expensive service or vacation package.
Consumerist explains how scammers can use your one-word response against you:
“If you dispute the charges, the company may take legal action, sticking that recording of you saying ‘yes’ into a recording of a different conversation as evidence that you agreed to the transaction.
Another variation uses that recording to ‘prove’ that you agreed to charges on a credit card of yours when the perpetrators have already stolen the number.”
Of course, if you think the caller is legit, you could always answer with “I can hear you,” reports Consumerist.
According to the BBB, more than half of the reports to the BBB Scam Tracker during the last few days of January were related to this scam.
Here are ways to protect yourself:
Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. Beware that “scammers will use a fake number from an area code close to you, to make you more likely to think it’s a local business and pick up,” says Consumerist.
Consider using a robocall-screening service.
Check your account statements frequently to ensure that you haven’t received any erroneous or unauthorized charges.
But perhaps this piece of advice from Consumerist is the easiest and most effective way to avoid being scammed: “Never say yes to telemarketers.”