The “Can You Hear Me?” Phone Scam is Back. Here’s How to Protect Yourself

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Phone scam
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Can you hear me?

Don’t answer that.

The Better Business Bureau just issued a press release on Monday warning the public of an an age-old scam making a comeback.

It’s been deemed the “Can You Hear Me?” scam.

What You Need to know About the “Can You Hear Me?” Phone Scam

In the past, this scam targeted businesses. The scammer would call — even pretend to adjust the phone or headset — and ask, “Can you hear me?”
The person on the other end would likely say, “Yes, yes, I can hear you.”

With this grunt of approval, scammers could twist that around to, “Yes, the nice woman said she’d purchase this bulk of office supplies.” Or, “Yes, he wants to buy an ad.”

Now the phone scam is back, but it’s targeting individuals.

In fact, BBB says more than half of the scams reported through its BBB Scam Tracker in the past few days have been about this one.

This is what happens: Someone calls you and you pick up. Consumers say the calls have been about anything from vacation packages to cruises to warranties.

Then the operator will ask if you can hear them, and you impulsively say “yes.” But you haven’t just politely answered their questions. Rather, you’ve committed to something and didn’t even know it.

So far, no one has reported losing money, but BBB says it’s unsure how long it’ll take for the scam to be carried out. It could be weeks — even months.

What to Do If You Get a Call From a “Can You Hear Me?” Scammer

BBB offers solid advice in its press release.

Here’s a summary of its tips:

  • If someone asks “Can you hear me?” don’t say anything. Hang up.
  • Stay aware of any other questions to solicit a yes. These scammers are smart; they’ll know the public has caught on and will adjust accordingly.
  • Don’t answer a call from an unknown or unfamiliar number.
  • Check your bank and credit card accounts on a regular basis.

If you do get a call from someone you think is a scammer, report it to BBB Scam Tracker to help warn others of your experience.

Your Turn: Can you hear me?
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.