If you receive this type of call, immediately hang up

Talking on phone / Can You Hear Me phone scam
Image: Pixabay
March 30, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is warning consumers to be on the lookout for scam callers seeking to get victims to say the word "yes" during a call and later use a recording of the response to authorize unwanted charges on the victim's utility or credit card account.

According to the FCC, the fraudulent callers impersonate representatives from organizations that provide a service and may be familiar to the person receiving the call, such as a mortgage lender or utility, to establish a legitimate reason for trying to reach the consumer.

The scam begins when a consumer answers a call and the person at the end of the line asks, "Can you hear me?" The caller then records the consumer's "Yes" response and thus obtains a voice signature. This signature can then be used by the scammers to pretend to be the consumer and authorize fraudulent charges via telephone.

If you receive this type of call, immediately hang up. If you have already responded to this type of call, review all of your statements such as those from your bank, credit card lender, or telephone company for unauthorized charges. If you notice unauthorized charges on these and other types of statements, you have likely been a victim of "cramming".

Anyone who believes they have been targeted by this scam should immediately report the incident to the FCC.

The agency stresses that consumers should always be on alert for telephone scams. The following tips can help ward off unwanted calls and scams:

  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.
  • If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target, live respondents.
  • If you receive a scam call, write down the number and file a complaint with the FCC so it can help identify and take appropriate action to help consumers targeted by illegal callers.
  • Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage your provider to offer one. You can also visit the FCC's website for information and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls. 
  • Consider registering all of your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry.