Anyone who still has a traditional home phone dreads the hated robocall. As part of the latest scam, the caller, instead of mentioning who they are, instead asks, "Can you hear me?" That could be a sign that a scammer is on the other end of the line.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday issued a consumer alert against just such scammers. When a caller says, "yes," that they can hear the robocall, their reply is recorded and used to authorize fraudulent charges via telephone on the victim's utility or credit card account, the FCC says.
The scam is prevalent, based on complaints the agency has received and from news reports across the U.S. The fraudulent callers might impersonate familiar organizations to get you to answer and talk.
"Robocalls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the FCC from the public. And it's no wonder: Every month, U.S. consumers are bombarded by an estimated 2.4 billion robocalls," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last week at the agency's March meeting, during which the commission voted to begin a rulemaking process to eliminate robocalls.
"Not only are unwanted robocalls intrusive and irritating, but they are also frequently employed to scam our most vulnerable populations, like elderly Americans, out of their hard-earned dollars," Pai said.
What should you do, according to the FCC? Hang up immediately. Or better yet, don't answer a call from an unknown number.
If you have gotten such a call, review your credit card and telephone bills as well as your bank statement for unauthorized charges.
Other FCC robocall tips:
- Hang up if a caller asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls. It's often a recording. Scammers often use that tactic to identify and target live respondents.
- If you do answer what winds up being a scam call, write the number down and add that to your FCC complaint.
- Ask your telephone company if it has a robocall blocking service. If it doesn't, recommend it get one.
- Register all your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry.
Copyright 2017, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY, Mike Snider