The Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont is warning consumers of the “Can you hear me?” scam. This is not a new scam, but it has made a reappearance since the beginning of this year.
According to BBB Scam Tracker and a statement by the BBB, there have been numerous reports of this scam over the past two weeks in Massachusetts as well as recent reports from Vermont and Rhode Island.
BBB Scam Tracker indicates that since 2017, there have been nearly 10,000 reports of this phishing scam throughout the United States and nearly 150 reports in Massachusetts alone.
The way it works is you’ll get a call from someone (many times automated) who tries to solicit you into saying “yes,” typically by asking “can you hear me?” They typically pretend to be with a company or department from an organization. For example, one scammer in a recent report from Massachusetts claimed to be from TripAdvisor, another said they were part of the “Rewards Department.”
Scammers might try to use this recording of you saying “yes” to authorize a purchase.
Even if you don’t lose money right away, scammers might try to use this information to authorize a purchase in the future. Also, just by answering the phone, you confirm that the phone number is valid, therefore leading to even more scams and telemarketing calls.
The best way to avoid the scam is by not answering calls with unfamiliar numbers. If you do pick up the phone and the caller immediately tries to pressure you into saying “yes” or “okay”, hang up right away.