Crime

Police Warn About New Phone Scam

| by Sheena Vasani

The next time someone calls and asks "Can you hear me now?" say no, or risk putting yourself in danger.

Authorities are warning the public about a new phone scam in which thieves are attempting to use your voice to make unauthorized purchases, WTSP reports.

“If you hear someone say 'I can't hear you' or 'Can you hear me,' the first reaction you have is to say 'Yes,'” said Lori Goodwin, who has received these kinds of calls multiple times. “It's almost instinctual, so that's what they're looking for.”

The scammers use a recording to call their victims, sometimes pretending to be from a credit card company, warranty department or some other entity. 

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Often these scammers already have your credit card number or other personal information, reports CBS News. By recording your "yes" to their questions, they can "prove" you gave them your consent to make the purchase, rendering you unable to defend yourself legally.

Authorities say the scammers are targeting people across the U.S., not just Florida residents, like Goodwin.

"Be advised we have received a few of these here in Phoenix which we hung up on without answering," writes one Arizona man on WTSP's Facebook post about the scam. "It sounds like the real deal and goes like this, usually a pause and then "Oh hi, sorry I'm having trouble with my phone/headset can you hear me?" I no longer answer any call that I don't recognize the number, in fact I have set specific ring tones for family and friends. Anyone else is instructed to leave voice mail if they want a reply."

What's worse, police officers say they are having a hard time tracking down these callers as they could be from anywhere.

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“Because of the nature of the communication, you could be making the call from anywhere, from India or Cleveland,” police spokesperson Steve Hegarty said.

Consequently, authorities say the best defense is to make sure not to respond and promptly alert the police or the Federal Trade Commission.

“I know that people think it’s impolite to hang up, but it’s a good strategy," advises Susan Grant, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America.

Sources: WTSP, CBS News, WTSP/Facebook / Photo credit: Visual Hunt

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