“Can you hear me?” Don’t answer that question on the phone

“Can you hear me?”

It sounds like a harmless question. You answer the phone, and a voice on the other end asks if you can hear them. Your instinct is to say “yes,” but police are warning that this simple one-word response could make you the victim of a scam.

The caller is actually a recording, saying they are with a credit card company or warranty department, Fox 30 reports. But when the ask if you can hear them, they are recording your response. With just a simple recording of you saying “yes,” scammers can use it to authorize unwanted charges on phone bills, utility bills, or stolen credit cards.

“You say ‘yes,’ it gets recorded, and they say that you have agreed to something,” Susan Grant, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America, said to CBS News. “I know that people think it’s impolite to hang up, but it’s a good strategy.”

How does it work if you never provided a payment method? Just by having your phone number, scammers can get third-party charges since phone companies pass those charges through. The scammer may have already collected some of your personal information after a data breach. But when you dispute the charge, the scammer has proof of you saying “yes” on a recorded call.

Anyone wanting to dispute unauthorized charges on a credit card is urged to contacte the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whereas phone charges should be taken up with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Your safest bet is to hang up whenever any caller asks you to press a button or hold on the line, even if it prompts you to press a number to be placed on their “do not call” list. Doing so could indicate to automated systems that the number they called automatically is an active number. And although it comes almost automatically, resist the urge to say “yes” to any question.

Officials urge consumers to register their phone numbers at DoNotCall.gov, which will stop legitimate businesses from soliciting you. If you are already on the list and still get a call, that means it’s far more likely the call is a scam.

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