“Can you hear me now?”

Lynette Veit
ECB Publishing, Inc

A Monticello resident has reported receiving phone calls from a young girl claiming to be from Trip Advisor, but the phone number that showed up on the Caller ID is a local number, with the 997 exchange, and it belongs to someone else.
The woman recognized the girl's voice as one who had called her on previous occasions trying to to sell trips. When the girl asked, “Can you hear me?” the woman immediately hung up.
That question, coupled with the spoofed phone number, signaled a scam.
In March of this year, the FCC issued a warning about such “can you hear me” phone call scams. Here's how it works, according to an agency report: The caller tries to get the victim to say the word “yes” during the conversation, a conversation that is being recorded. The fraudster will later try to use the recording of the victim saying “yes” as a voice signature to authorize fraudulent charges via telephone.
When asked “can you hear me?” the most natural response for most people is an automatic “yes.” That makes these phones calls particularly effective from the fraudster's perspective.
Although it seems rude to many people, the FCC advises that if you receive such a phone call, to hang up immediately – don't respond, just hang up.
If you answer such a call, usually a robocall, and are told to press 1 to speak to a live operator, or press another number to be placed on a Do Not Call list, don't fall for it...again, just hang up without responding, because scammers use this trick to identify and target live respondents. If you respond in any way, it will probably just lead to more robocalls – and they’re likely to be scams.
If you think you may have already gotten such a phone call, immediately check your bank and credit card statements as well as your telephone bill for any unauthorized charges and report them immediately.
You should also report the incident to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us, or the FCC Consumer Help Center at www.fcc.gov/consumers.
The best and safest advice according to the FCC, is to not answer calls from unknown numbers. Let unknown calls go straight to voice mail.
The Monticello News regularly runs Scam Alerts in the paper to warn readers about the latest tricks fraudsters have up their sleeves. If you receive a scam phone call, or know of one that is making the rounds among your friend and neighbors, contact the Monticello News at (850) 997-3568. We'll run a Scam Alert about it to get the information out to our readers.