Telemarketing calls are annoying enough, but now authorities are warning consumers about the risk of having their words on the phone used against them.
It’s called the ‘Can you hear me’ scam and reports in the U.S. suggest it’s growing in popularity as fraudsters use it to try to get your money.
“He said, ‘This is Tony Moore, can you hear me clearly?'” Gail Worth, a homeowner who got one of the calls, said.
She immediately hung up, but had she said, ‘Yes,’ her answer might have been edited and used to prove she had willingly subscribed to a service contract or to buy an unwanted product.
Telemarketing organizations typically call back consumers for verification calls and rely on those to ensure the consumer pays.
“Keep in mind, a scammer may already have gotten their hands on some of your personal information, such as credit card numbers, which they can use in tandem with your recorded affirmation to push through charges,” warned the Better Business Bureau of Southfield, Mich. It recently issued a warning to businesses and consumers.
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In some cases, the calls may be placed by a live person. But frequently, the calls are automated.
“We have seen these robocalls get more sophisticated and even mimic things like background noise to convince you, as the recipient of the phone call, that it is a real person,” Ryan Kalember, senior vice president with the California cyber-security consulting company Proofpoint, said.
“If you answer, ‘Yes,’ there’s a possibility that the scam artist behind the phone call has recorded you and will use your agreement to sign you up for a product or service and then demand payment. If you refuse, the caller may produce your recorded ‘yes’ response to confirm your purchase agreement,” the BBB cautioned.
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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns people to never provide personal information over the telephone and to hang up if they answer a pre-recorded sales call.
So far, there are no reports any Canadians have been defrauded as a result of the scam.