By John Shumway


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In a time of robocalls and scams, you never know who might be on the other end when your cell phone rings.

Joe Shirk was just enjoying his day when his phone rang and he looked at the number.  It was a 412 number, but not one he recognized.  Still, he was expecting an important call so he answered.

“And the voice comes on and says this is Josh from customer service can you hear me,” Joe says. 

But Joe was ahead of the game this time, he had heard of the “Can You Hear Me” scam so he heard the familiar question and quickly hung up.

But many, many others have not been so sharp.  While this scam has been around a while the Better Business Bureau says it is enjoying a resurgence with over 2,100 complaints in just the last week alone coming into the BBB complaint line.

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Don’t answer and don’t reply.

Those are the words of caution from the Better Business Bureau, because the scammer is recording the call and just waiting for you to give the natural response:

“Can you hear me?”
“Yes.”

And then they’ve got you on tape saying “yes.”

While it may seem innocent enough, Caitlin Driscoll of the BBB says with that simple recorded response a scammer can:

  • Use it to place unauthorized charges on your phone bill in a practice called cramming.
  • If they have your Credit Card number they are able to use the recording to place unauthorized charges with third party vendors.
  • Call for payment for a product you never ordered, but when you object they play the tape proving authorization of the sale.  They then aggressively demand payment or threaten consequences.  (Many will pay up to avoid potential trouble.)

The answer to avoiding all this is simple: don’t answer if you don’t recognize the number showing up on your phone.

If you do answer, do not respond to the question in any way.  Just hang up.

These scammers are good and if you engage in a conversation they will continue to pepper you with questions trying to get you to simply say the word “Yes.”

If by chance this has already happened to you and you did say “yes,” keep a close eye on your bank accounts, credit cards, and credit reports and report any irregularity immediately.