Phone Scams

Recently, in newscasts and Internet reports, a new scam surfaced with either a recorded “robo-call” or a human attempting to get you to answer a question with “Yes”. The caller claims to represent a business entity you may or may not be familiar with, and proceeds to ask something simple, such as:

  • Can you hear me clearly?
  • Are you the homeowner?
  • Are you over 18?
  • Are you the head of the household?
  • Do you pay the bills?
  • Do you own a computer?

It can be a myriad of questions, that the unsuspecting public might engage out of good manners. That is the hook. Most people practice good manners, or social small talk responses figuring there is no harm. The problem is the scammers are recording your voice saying “Yes” and then use that as consent to sign you up for other services or products. Later, they demand payment and use the recorded answer to confirm the purchase.

I received one of these calls today, and I was lucky enough to have read about this scam weeks prior. I did not exercise good manners. I simply hung up. If you get a call where the lead off is a question seeking a “Yes” response, DO NOT answer! The FTC and law enforcement recommend simply hanging up. Avoid providing any responses that can be construed as consent, e.g. “Yes”, “OK”, “affirmative”, “sure”.

Given it is tax season, also be on the look out for scammers claiming to represent Social Security or the IRS, demanding payment of money or face jail time. Most government agencies conduct business by written US mail, and NOT by phone. Hang up on these types of calls, too.