Can You Hear Me? — Phone Scam

Can You Hear Me? — Phone Scam

Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD

is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles.  Follow SSSAP on Facebook .  For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at  Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or

“Can You Hear Me? — Phone Scam”
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD, Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program*

Here we are in June 2018! Hard to believe, isn’t it? June represents the tail end of spring and the beginning of summer. It’s a busy month, a month of transitions, and a good time to sharpen our minds about the fraudulent schemes that con artists are drumming up to cheat us out of our hard-earned retirement funds. It’s time to shake off the cobwebs and get with the program to Stop Senior Scams!

CAN YOU HEAR ME? Phone Scam — One of the latest scams to sweep the nation is the “Can You Hear Me?” phone scam. The goal of the scammer is simple – it’s to get you to say “Yes.” All the scammer has to do is pretend he or she can’t hear you very well, say, because of a problem with a headset, for example. After fiddling with the headset, the con artist may say, “Can you hear me?” or “Can you hear me now?” It’s easy enough for you to answer with “yes”, but when you do, that’s when the real problems begin. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), “The call is actually a robocall recording the conversation … and answering ‘yes’ can later be used to make it sound like the consumer authorized major purchases like vacation packages, cruises, warranties and ‘other big ticket items.’” In other words, “That affirmative response is recorded by the fraudster and used to authorize unwanted charges on a phone or utility bill or on a purloined credit card.”

But, you might say, how can I be charged for something if I didn’t provide any method of payment? The answer is that the fraudster has your phone number already and may well have gathered additional personal information about you from a data breach, e.g., a credit card or utility services statement. “When [you] dispute the charge, the crook can then counter that he or she has your assent on a recorded line.”

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF? – Be aware that “While ‘Can you hear me?’ seems to be the most popular question, scammers are using other questions that would prompt a ‘Yes’ response, like ‘Are you the homeowner?’ and ‘Do you pay the bills.’” So, here are some guidelines you can use to protect yourself and others from phone scams:

DON’T answer the phone if it’s a telephone number you don’t recognize on caller ID.
DON’T share personal info over the phone.
DON’T verify your phone number over the telephone.
DON’T answer any questions over the phone.
IF you answer an unsolicited call and the caller asks you “Can you hear me?” – Just Hang Up!
REPORT the telephone number of the scammer to the BBB at The BBB will use this info to help others avoid being scammed.
PAY close attention to your bank and credit card statements, telephone and utility bills, etc. Look for any unusual charges. Contact the appropriate agency if anything looks suspicious.
IF you need assistance when disputing an unauthorized charge on your credit card, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
IF you need assistance when disputing unauthorized charges on your phone bill, contact the Federal Communications Commission (
SIGN-UP for Nomorobo ( — a free service that can be used through some landline providers to stop robocalls.

GOOD NEWS UPDATE! – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging’s Resolution to designate May 15th as National Senior Fraud Awareness Day! Bravo!

If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or And then — Pass It On! If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080.

Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!

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