March 4, 2020
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Phone scammers have adopted a new tactic recently that is part of a long-term scheme to impersonate victims during calls with banks or other financial institutions.
The new technique involves a scammer calling a victim and when the victim answers, immediately asking, “Can you hear me?” The idea is to record the victim’s voice as he says “yes”, and then use that recording in future calls with the victim’s financial institutions and other companies he does business with. In their initial calls to victims, the scammers often will pretend to be calling from a legitimate company, such as a bank.
The FCC said it has received a slew of complaints about this scam and is warning consumers not to give the fraudsters any information at all.
“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 FCC warning says.
“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.”
The best defense against this technique, and many other phone scams, is not to answer calls that come from unknown or blocked numbers. However, many scammers will spoof the caller ID information when they call victims, making it difficult to distinguish legitimate from fake calls.
Image: Da Sal, CC by license.