Officials Warn of New ‘Can You Hear Me' Phone Scam

Officials across the country are warning consumers about a possible new scam dubbed the "Can you hear me" scam involving fraudsters tricking consumers into saying a single word over the phone, according to the national Better Business Bureau.

The single word you utter back could potentially lead to fraudulent charges.

It starts with an unsolicited phone call during which the caller claims to represent a business or agency.

The caller then claims to have a bad connection and asks, "Can you hear me now?" or simply "Can you hear me?"

If the consumer says "yes," the scammer records the answer and misuses it as the victim authorizing unwanted charges for products and services.

When the consumer tries to dispute the charge, the audio recording is reportedly used to argue that the consumed agreed to the charge.

The BBB first warned consumers about the scam back in October 2016, but local police departments and officials around the country have been sharing news of the scam this week.  The BBB says recent callers have pretended to be working with cruise lines, home security companies, or have associations with social security.

Its unclear how common or widespread this scam could be but either way, officials say its a good opportunity to practice some phone safety tips.

The Wisconsin Better Business bureau chapter shared the warning on its social media account.

The West Virginia Attorney General's Office issued an alert on Jan. 27.  The office says scammers originally collect the consumer's personal information through a data breach or some other scam.

Officials urge people to be on guard.  The West Virginia Attorney General's office says the best advice is to simply hang up the phone if they are asked this question.  Do not give an affirmative answer, such as "yes" when asked that question.  Make sure you are checking your credit card statements and bank accounts to be sure there are no fradulent charges.  If you see a charge you don't recognize, dispute it immediately with your financial institution.

While the scam is reportedly circulating throughout the country, there are no known victims in Connecticut.

Police departments across New England were sharing news of the possible fradulent calls.  Boston University police warned its social media followers about the potential scam on the department's Twitter page.  Police departments in Tewksbury, Arlington, and Douglas, Mass. all shared the warning on social media.

The Better Business Bureau recommends you sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry and report any suspicious activity to the BBB Scam Tracker system.

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