The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is alerting consumers to be on the lookout for scam callers seeking to get victims to say the word “yes” during a call — and later use a recording of the response to authorize unwanted charges on the victim’s utility or credit card account.
According to complaints the FCC has received and public news reports, the fraudulent callers impersonate representatives from organizations that provide a service and may be familiar to the person receiving the call, such as a mortgage lender or utility, to establish a legitimate reason for trying to reach the consumer.
The scam begins when a consumer answers a call and the person at the end of the line asks, “Can you hear me?” The caller then records the consumer’s “Yes” response — and thus obtains a voice signature. This signature can later be used by the scammers to pretend to be the consumer and authorize fraudulent charges via telephone.
If you receive this type of call, immediately hang up. If you have already responded to this type of call, review all of your statements such as those from your bank, credit card lender or telephone company for unauthorized charges. If you notice unauthorized charges on these and other types of statements, you have likely been a victim of “cramming.”
Anyone who believes s/he has been targeted by this scam should immediately report the incident to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker and to the FCC Consumer Help Center.
Consumers should always be on alert for telephone scams. The following tips can help ward off unwanted calls and scams.
• Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.
• If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target, live respondents.
• If you receive a scam call, write down the number and file a complaint with the FCC so it can help identify and take appropriate action to help consumers targeted by illegal callers.
• Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage your provider to offer one. You can also visit the FCC’s website for information and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls.
• Consider registering all of your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry.
As the agency that implements and enforces the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the FCC reviews all consumer complaints. The agency will continue, when appropriate, to issue consumer alerts based on those complaints and other public information related to possible scams and frauds, in hopes of informing and empowering consumers.