Contributed By: Jon Freeman

Have you ever gotten an unsolicited phone call from a company or someone you do not know? It can be irritating. But there are times when these calls are not simply annoying, they may be malicious.

In the past few months, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has received complaints about a particular phone scam being referred to as the “can you hear me” phone scam. What happens is once you answer the person on the other end of the line, it may be an automated recording, there is a voice saying “Can you hear me?” Do not answer this question. It is likely a scam! The person on the line with you may be recording you. If you do answer the question with “yes” the criminal on the phone can try to use it against you. The criminal can use that recording to try and authorize fraudulent charges against you via telephone. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has informed people who receive a call like this to hang up immediately. If you think you have already received a call like this check your bank and credit card statements, as well as your telephone statements to see if there are any unauthorized charges. Recently, the FCC released a consumer alert about these “can you hear me” phone scams. Be skeptical of any unsolicited phone call you get that has you answering a yes or no question.

The goal of the criminal on the phone is to get you to say “yes”, therefore, the voice you hear could ask something like:

Can you hear me?
Do you pay the household phone bill?
Are you the homeowner?
Do you pay the household bills?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also gave the following tips to help ward off scam calls:

1. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let unknown calls go to voicemail.
2. Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage your provider to offer one.
3. If you receive a scam call, write down the number and file a complaint with the FCC so that it can help identify and take appropriate action to help consumers targeted by scam calls.
4. If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify and target live respondents.
5. Consider registering all of your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.