Lately, people have been subjected to a phone scam that could potentially empty their accounts or bring about surcharges on their phone bills. Virginia authorities have caught on to the trick and recommend citizens not to answer their phones if they do not recognize the number.
In the initial phase, the victim receives a phone call with the person on the other end asking if they could be heard. Once they receive a positive answer, the tricksters hang up. If the victim replies with “yes”, the perpetrators record their response and later use it for authentication purposes on the victim’s behalf. This could bring about unwanted charges on either a purloined credit card, and utility, or phone bills.
Susan Grant, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America urges potential victims to hang up the phone if they are asked the question “Do you hear me?” right away or let the call go to voicemail. Even though hanging up on people is considered impolite, this could be the most effective means of protecting oneself when faced with such threat, she says.
However, several questions remain. For example, how could the fraudster use the victim’s response for his or her own benefit? Most likely, the perpetrators already are in possession of the victim’s personal credit card information, phone, or utility bills. Even if the victims realize they have been tricked, the fraudsters can hold their recorded consent against them.
The Federal Trade Commission has already been briefed on the situation and comes to the population’s aid. Hence, FTC officials urge those who believe to have been tricked to check their cable, phone statements, and credit cards for any unfamiliar changes. Should any be identified, the victims are instructed to immediately contact their billing company and dispute any changes that have not been authorized on purpose.
For those who have not yet been targeted, authorities say the best way to go about the scam is to not pick up the phone in the first place when the potential victims are faced with an unknown caller.
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