Brooklyn Boro

New national phone scam targets unsuspecting individuals

February 6, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Don’t say ‘yes’

At Thursday’s meeting of Bay Ridge’s Colonial Club, former Police Officer Peter Killen addressed a new epidemic that’s spreading across the country.

After welcoming guests, Killen asked club members, “Can you hear me?” He then repeated his question, “Can you hear me?” After a third query, someone responded with a loud “Yes,” to which Killen shouted back, “No! that’s the wrong answer.”

What Killen was referring to is a new phone scam that targets unsuspecting individuals when they answer their phones.  A robo-voice offers a warm, friendly greeting to confuse the listener into thinking they know who it is. Next, the caller asks, “Can you hear me?” hoping the respondent will say, “yes.”

That would be the wrong response. Killen explained, “What is happening with the new phone technology is that all the scammers need to do is capture the word ‘yes.’ You could be sold solar paneling, sign up for a cruise or have someone come to your house to clean your chimney.

“And then, after you’ve said yes,” Killen said,” they will say, ‘Do you want solar paneling?’ Well, they already have your ‘yes,’ and they will insert your response into the part of the conversation that would have you agreeing to purchase whatever they are selling.”

Killen added, “Since you said yes to their offer, they can send someone over to install your solar paneling. Or they will ask if you want to go on a cruise. Again, they will take your ‘yes’ and insert it into the agreement, so you will have essentially agreed to be booked on a cruise.”

The solution is not to be so nice. “You don’t have to slam the phone down,” Killen said, “just hang up. Even if it sounds like a robo-call, they are capturing what you are saying on your end and they will use it against you.”  

The best advice, according to Killen, is to not say anything and quickly hang up on the caller.