According to media outlets across the country, scammers are targeting people by asking a single question at the start of a phone call: “Can you hear me?” These calls are often robocalls, and their goal is to record you saying “Yes.” Once the scammers have that recording, they can pair your “Yes” with any breached data they have for you—for example, your credit card number—and use it as evidence to show that you approved any number of products and services that the scammers are ordering in your name.
The scam was first reported in late 2016 and, according to reports, has resurfaced in a big way over the past few weeks, targeting people in the Northeast initially and now in Florida.
The website Snopes.com, which fact-checks rumors, says that the reports are unproven—while people have been receiving these calls, nobody has yet reported being charged for unwanted purchases as a result. Nevertheless the Better Business Bureau advises you to never answer calls from numbers that are private or you don’t recognize and, if you do pick up, not to give personal information. And if you pick up and someone asks if you can hear them, hang up immediately.
It’s also worth being aware of the FTC’s advice on robocallers: “Hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list.”