Monday, March 27, 2017

Don't Answer That Telemarketing Call But If You Do, Don't Say Yes.

Have you gotten one of these telemarketing calls? You answer, and then a female voice, sounding surprised you answered, makes a comment about her headset and asks if you can hear her.  Before you realize this is a robocall, you say yes.  Then you realize, it's a recording and you hang up.  All's good, right? Maybe not.

The LA Times recently ran a story that explains all of this and what may happen if you say yes. Whatever you do, don’t say yes when this chatbot asks, 'Can you hear me?'  calls this scam as the "Can you hear me" scam.  "This is a new and highly sophisticated racket known as the “can you hear me” scam, which involves tricking people into saying yes and using that affirmation to sign people up for stuff they didn’t order."

Wait, you say. How can you be signed up for stuff if all you said was yes to the question, can you hear me?  The article explains how this spins out

 As the scam plays out, the recorded voice will raise the possibility of a vacation or cruise package, or maybe a product warranty. She’ll ask if you could answer a few questions. Or she’ll make it sound like her headset is still giving her trouble and say, “Can you hear me?” ... Don’t say yes.... Police departments nationwide have warned recently that offering an affirmative response can be edited to make it seem you’ve given permission for a purchase or some other transaction. There haven’t been many reports of losses, but a Washington State man reportedly got bilked for about $100.

So don't say yes. But what should you do? If you get one of these (and I have several times), hang up!!! Also, sign up for the do not call list, block the number, screen your calls and check your credit reports. (remember you can get your credit reports free annually).

How is that this robocall is even possible? Technology. As software evolves, this scam will be child's play.  According to one expert quoted in the article

[A]s the technology improves and becomes more commonplace, it almost certainly will be embraced by telemarketers and scammers to try to dupe people into thinking they’re speaking with a real person, thus making a questionable sales pitch all the more believable. ... She said machines become more human-sounding the more they can be taught to pepper conversations with the occasional “um” or “uh-huh,” or to laugh at the right moment. They’ll soon convey what sounds like emotion and will adjust their vocal pitch to match the context of the discussion.

The author of the article concludes "[t]ink the “can you hear me” scam sounds devious? Just you wait." Sheesh. I think I'll just quit answering my phone.

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