Scam alert: Thieves want your own voice to rip you off. Beware of callers who ask, Can you hear me? Or are you a homeowner? Or another other question designed to make you say “yes”. It’s the newest phone scam. It works this way:
The scammer is recording you, so if you answer “yes”, they’ve got you on tape, to use your own voice as evidence you agreed to a purchase.
Consumer protection experts say the scammer then plays back your so-called “agreement” to a purchase of some kind, and instructs you to pay up via wire transfer, gift card, or money order, never a credit card, since that payment can be traced.
Scammers often target older people living alone, which is why the AARP is also warning about the new phone fraud.
According to CNET, The Detroit Free Press reports the Better Business Bureau has fielded complaints from 62 people. Wisconsin’s BBB says 50 people have reported receiving such calls.
Protect yourself from telephone scams
It’s simple to protect yourself.
Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know. That can be difficult, since a scam call often comes in from an area code you recognize as a place where you have long-distance family, friends or business associates.
The tell-tale sign of a scammer is that there is no sound immediately, since these crooks are using programs that call multiple numbers simultaneously, and it takes a moment for the software to answer your call and set up the recording.
If you do answer a scam call, do not say the word “yes” no matter what the question is.
I keep a whistle by my phone, and if it’s a robocall or other scam call, I blow out the caller’s eardrums.
If you don’t have a whistle, it’s a great opportunity to scream, or use every four-letter word your mother told you never to say.