Here are NJFA, we like to make sure we are keeping folks aware of scams and fraud issues. Our February episode of Aging Insights, is titled, Stop Identity Theft and features two guests that will help viewers to protect themselves. We also want to address a scam that‚Äôs been in the news.
Recently, news outlets across the United States reported on a new scam referred to as the “can you hear me?” telephone scam. According to those¬†reports, the scam begins with an unsolicited phone call. After the caller makes contact they ask the recipient “Can you hear me?” to elicit a response of “yes,” and a potential onslaught of unauthorized charges ensues.
The story goes that if you get this call and respond ‚Äúyes‚Äù to the question, ‚Äúcan you hear me?‚Äù that the scammer could be recording it and could use it against you. There is the possibility that you could receive a bill for something you did not purchase or agree to and when you go to dispute the bill you will be presented with your own voice saying ‚Äúyes‚Äù on the recording.
The first thing we want to warn readers about is if you don‚Äôt know the caller or are suspicious of their intent, you should always hang up. Do not give personal information or engage the caller in conversation if you have doubts about the legitimacy of the call. You should also contact the appropriate authority to report any issues or to verify any information you are given on the call. For example, if the caller claims to be from your utility company, call the # on your monthly statement to verify your account status or any issues.
After some additional research, we‚Äôd also like you to know what some investigators have discovered about this scam. According to the fact-finding website, Snopes, ‚Äúwe haven’t yet been able to identify any scenario under which a scammer could authorize charges in another person’s name simply by possessing a voice recording of that person saying “yes,” without also already possessing a good deal of personal and account information for that person, and without being able to reproduce any other form of verbal response from that person.‚Äù That doesn‚Äôt mean it cannot happen, just that the reports thus far only support the threat and not any actual monetary charges.
The Snopes article adds, ‚ÄúIn all the news reports we found, interviewees¬†merely¬†reported¬†having been asked the common question (“Can you hear me?”) but did not state that they themselves had fallen prey to scammers.‚Äù
That being said, we still advice you to use caution when receiving unsolicited phone calls, hanging up is ok. And if you have any scams or crimes to report, contact your local police, the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-438-4338), and/or your local Better Business Bureau.