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ETC received a report from an ETC customer who received a phone call within the past week where the caller, named April asked the customer if she could hear her. Luckily this customer had recently seen a news report regarding a scam of this type which warned viewers that the “Can You Hear Me?” scam was hitting our area.

Actually, both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Police are warning consumers to beware of the “Can You Hear Me” scam. They report the way it works is this:

You’ll receive a phone call on your home phone or on your cell phone from a number you do not know. The number may or may not be a familiar area code. The person or the automated recording may introduce themselves and their business, or immediately ask, “Can you hear me” or “Are you the head of the household”? For most the natural response to this question would be to answer “Yes” and that is exactly what they want you to say, but do not say this. There may also be some fumbling around, the person may even say something like “I’m having trouble with my headset”. The phone call will most likely be recorded and your conversation very well may be edited later to make it sound like you authorized a major purchase resulting in you being billed later for products or services you never asked for. And if you deny the charges, the scammers will playback your verbal confirmation of “Yes” and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay. So if someone calls you and tries to get you to say ‘yes’ no matter how innocent the question may seem, be careful, don’t say anything and hang up.

According to the police and the BBB, here are some general tips to follow to avoid scams:

  • Do not answer the phone from numbers you to not recognize.
  • Use Caller ID to screen calls. If it’s important the caller will leave a message. Sometimes it’s safer not to pick up the phone if you are uncertain of the caller’s identity.
  • Do not give out personal information.
  • Do not confirm your number over the phone.
  • Do not answer questions over the phone.
  • Consider joining the Do Not Call Registry to cut down on the number of telemarketing calls. This may not help with scammers since they don’t bother to follow the law, but you’ll get fewer calls overall.
  • Hang up the phone and call the police or BBB.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges. Also, check your telephone and cell phone bills.