Unsolicited phone calls from people you don't know can be irritating. They always have horrible timing too, calling at the most inconvenient moment.
Some of these calls aren't just annoying anymore, they're also malicious. The FCC released an urgent Consumer Alert this week regarding scam phone calls that you need to know about.
How the "Can you hear me" phone scam works
What we're talking about is a Consumer Alert warning Americans about 'can you hear me' scams. We actually warned you about these scams making the rounds a couple months ago. Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said the problem is getting worse.
The FCC is asking consumers to be careful answering calls from unknown phone numbers. Scammers are calling victims hoping to get them to say the word "yes" during the conversation that's being recorded. The fraudster will later use the recording of the victim saying yes to authorize unwanted charges on the victim's utility or credit card account.
The scam works like this: a consumer answers a call from someone impersonating a representative from organizations that provide a service that the victim is most likely familiar with. The criminal could say they're with a utility company, a mortgage lender or a credit card company to name a few.
The scammer will ask "Can you hear me?" The caller records the victim saying yes, which they later use as a voice signature. This voice signature can be used to authorize fraudulent charges via telephone.
What you need to do
The FCC is telling consumers who receive a call like this to immediately hang up the phone. If you think that you have already received a call like this, you need to immediately check your bank and credit card statements as well as your telephone statement to see if there are any unauthorized charges.
If you find unauthorized charges, it's likely that you are a victim of what's known as "cramming." Report these charges as unauthorized immediately.
The FCC gave these tips to help ward off unwanted calls and scams:
- Don't answer calls from unknown numbers - This is the most obvious and simplest precaution. Let unknown calls 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 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 phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Have you or anyone you know received a scam call like this? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience.