We remember the old “Can you hear me now” commercials for cell phone service but answering the
question, “Can you hear me?” on a robocall can lead to more problems down the road.
What’s The Scam?
While it may be tempting to answer an unknown number and tell a telemarketer to take you off their list, in many cases, this is what the caller is hoping you’ll do. Here are some of the gimmicks they’ll use.
Many times the “person” on the other line isn’t even a person but a recording. You may hear something like, “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble with my headset. Can you hear me?” You’ll reply yes and then the call will end. This was a robocall designed to see if a number is active and if you are willing to take calls. The company behind the call will then sell your number to other telemarketers.
Other callers will take your “yes” answer and use it to make unauthorized phone purchases using stolen information from a data breach or lost receipt. This type of fraud doesn’t happen as often, but if you’ve tried to get a statement or new checks from a bank lately, you’ll see the effects in the dozen or so qualifying questions you are asked to ensure you are who you say you are.
How To Avoid The Hassle
f you see a call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer it. Let the caller leave a message and you can either pick up the call after screening it or call back later.
Some landline phones have “Block Call” buttons that you can use as the call is coming in. Cell phones let you block the call from a menu. Doing this sends a message to telemarketers that you are not willing to take unknown calls and your number loses value to them.
Nomorobo is also a great free tool for keeping telemarketers at bay. It works for landlines and cell phones. Your phone may ring once, but then the app cuts the call so you don’t need to handle it at all.