Why You Shouldn’t Talk When You Receive a Robot Call

To the question: “Can you hear me?” It may seem innocent enough to the caller, but even a monosyllabic “yes” answer could expose you to the risk of fraud. In rare cases, phone scammers may record your voice with the intent to impersonate you to make fraudulent purchases, but it is more likely that they are simply confirming that your phone number is active and could be used or sold to be scammed later. In any case, you should avoid answering affirmatively to strangers, or, even better, simply allow these calls to be forwarded to voicemail.

How the scam works

According to the FTC and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), these scam calls have a familiar pattern: when you answer a phone call, there might be some sort of fiddling on the other end of the line, and the person might say, “I have a problem with my headset. … “This is followed by a yes / no question like” can you hear me? ” While it sounds like it’s coming from a real person, it’s often robots playing pre-recorded messages.

When you say yes, it lets the scammer know that your number is active and that you are ready to answer calls (not to mention that it is also a pretty good disarming tactic to keep you connected). This allows the fraudster to sell your number to other telemarketing operators for a higher price.

This is by far the most common form of this scam, although the FTC and BBB suggest that scammers may also record your yes answer so that it can be used later to make unauthorized phone purchases using other stolen information found through data breach or identity theft. data. Cases of this type of scam are rare, but a general no-talk policy is the safest approach as fraudsters begin to use voice-simulated technology as part of their scams.

How to Avoid Robot Harassment

If you don’t recognize the number, have it go to voicemail. Even if your service provider hasn’t flagged them as probable scams, these calls often come without a Caller ID or from phone numbers that are similar to your own (for example, if your number is (555) -866-7001, you can get a lot of calls from numbers (555) -866). The idea is that a call from a local number will seem less suspicious and you will be more likely to answer the call.

While information robotic calls from charities, political candidates, and your doctor are legitimate, unwanted robotic calls that sound like marketing calls may be illegal . If you haven’t interacted with the caller before, the best way to avoid new scam calls is to ignore the call or hang up immediately without answering or pressing any numbers on the keypad.

Another useful step is to block calls from unrecognized numbers — Lifehacker has a post that covers your options here (we also talk about only contacts — the “nuclear” option here ). If you receive a fraudulent robot call (and you undoubtedly did), you are encouraged to file a complaint with the FTC and report it to the BBB Fraud Tracking System.


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