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Phone scams becoming an issue for many Americans

Kinjal Shah, Staff Writer

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Have you ever received a phone call asking you whether or not you could hear the caller? Have you ever been asked to share personal information verify personal information, or even just press a button to prevent receiving more calls from that number? If so, you may be part of a telephone scam that has been affecting consumers all around the country.

Many are reporting the “can you hear me?” scam, where con artists are victimizing customers by calling them and asking them “Can you hear me?” in order to record the “yes” response. With that response, scammers can authorize fake charges placed on the customer’s account.

The scam, which spread like wildfire throughout news outlets at the beginning of this year, has reportedly taken a surge in action over the summer. CNN News reported “By saying ‘yes!’ it gets recorded and they say that you have agreed to something… I know that people think it’s impolite to hang up, but it’s a good strategy.”

While many question the validity of this scam, con artist are able to pass through phone providers once they’ve attained your number, according to a CNN reports.

Another option for those afraid of falling prey to the phone scam is registering the telephone number in the National Do No Call Registry. This registry is run by the Federal Trade Commission, and can reduce the number of unwanted scales calls or calls from illegitimate companies. The registry does not entirely eliminate these calls, and you may still receive political, charitable, debt collector, or informational calls. To add your phone number, visit donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222.

Should you receive this phone call, here are some things you can do to prevent being scammed: Do not answer calls from unknown numbers, hang up immediately if you do accidentally answer such a call, and write down the number of the caller to report it to the FTC.

While there are very few documented cases of people significantly losing money from these calls, the FTC encourages consumers to take safeguards against these scam calls. Along with this phone call scam, many are being victimized by even more elaborate scams.

Colleen Elward, a senior accounting and finance major, has personal experience dealing with such phone scams. Elward’s grandparents were recently scammed into believing that her younger brother was being held in Massachusetts for a DUI charge, prompting them to send money to pay bond and for the supposed passenger that he had hit.

“The first call they asked for $2,300 to post bail. And the second call, they asked for another $2,700 for the supposed injured party in the crash. These are people in their 80s, they don’t have money for this.”

Elward warns against being quick to comply with anonymous callers:

“Ask questions without giving names away,” she said. “Be skeptical. You should know who is calling and where they’re calling from, because they told my grandparents that he was in Massachusetts when he actually attends Bloomsburg. Just remember to keep asking questions.”

Kinjal Shah is a fourth-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The Student News Service of West Chester University
Phone scams becoming an issue for many Americans