Better Call Jackson: New phone scam targets seniors with just four words

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It all started as another “senior phone scam,” but Better Call Jackson uncovered something much bigger.

Millions of automatic calls are made everyday. Many consumers ignore calls they don’t recognize on caller-id, while others answer the phone, not realizing they’re running the risk of getting conned.

Bill Demahdouchvich started getting one specific type of calls three to four times a day.

“Like today, Joe calls me with a security company. [He’s] taking to you for a few minutes, then [says] ‘can you hear me,'” Demahdouchvich said.

He alerted Better Call Jackson.

This particular scam uses just four words: “Can you hear me?” The caller records your answer and uses it as “verification” to sign you up for magazine orders, get rich quick books, time-shares and more.

Kip Morse of the Better Business Bureau says the “can you hear me now” ploy recently skyrocketed to number one on the BBB Scam Tracker.

“Anything that can lure you in is bait for luring you into online scams,” Morse explained. “A lot of times they will put your name on a register of their own.”

Other ways scammers might get you to say yes is by asking questions like “are you the homeowner?” or “are you over 18”?

So how can you protect yourself? Follow these tips from the BBB.

  • First and foremost, do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. If it’s a legitimate contact, they will leave a message. Even if a scammer leaves a message, this will give you time to think about what is being asked of you.
  • If you do answer and are asked questions that seem to be fishing for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, do not respond and hang up immediately.
  • For this scam, and all others, never give out any personal identifying information over the phone when you are not sure of the caller.
  • If you believe you may have fallen for this, contact your bank and credit card companies to flag your accounts. Check your account daily – the earlier you identify unauthorized charges on your accounts, the easier it will be to recover any lost money.
  • Write down the phone number of those callers violating the Do Not Call Registry and file a scam report with BBB Scam Tracker and the FTC’s Do Not Call List.
  • If you have questions or concerns about this or any other scam, call your BBB at 248.223.9400.

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