The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

New scam: don't say 'Yes' on call


This just in: all the incredibly creative con artists in the world have joined together to solve the world's problems. They just tidied up the Middle East and now are working on nuclear fission for home use. At least that's how the story ought to go. In actuality, news has come of another perversely creative scam hitting the nation and parts of Klickitat County.

Here's the basic summary: if you answer your phone and someone asks, "Can you hear me?"-do not say "Yes."

Scammers have taken to calling random numbers and immediately asking, "Can you hear me?" As soon as the scammee says "Yes," the thieves record your voice and then hang up. Some while later, you get a charge for a purchase you didn't make. When you challenge the activity, the scammers say you authorized the purchase-"Listen," they say, "this is your voice saying 'yes' to this purchase."

It's particularly insidious insofar as most people are polite or curious enough to naturally say yes to such a question.

"You say 'yes,' it gets recorded, and they say that you have agreed to something," Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy for the Consumer Federation of America, told CBS News in a report Tuesday from that news service. "People think it's impolite to hang up, so it's a good strategy."

The scam was first noticed by law enforcement officials last year. And it's escalated since then.

Fox News reports that the callers work within local area codes. "Usually it has a familiar area code," Officer Jo Ann Hughes with the Norfolk Police Department told WTKR-TV, according to the report.

When victims challenge the purchase, the scammers will often play back the person's voice saying "yes" ostensibly authorizing the payment. Some even threaten legal action against the victims. Many victims are so embarrassed by the scam they don't readily report, which is the very thing law enforcement agencies encourage people to do.

At the very least, they emphasize people to resist the natural urge to be polite if they get a call with the out-of-the-blue question, "Can you hear me?"


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