NBC
Chelsea Duff
January 28, 2017 4:11 pm

It seems like all too often we’re hearing about creepy phone scams like the one ring wireless phone scam. Just the other day, Maryland state police warned about another phone scam where callers claim to have information about kidnapped family members and need money. But the “Can You Hear Me?” scam we just heard about takes the scary cake.

According to police officers, phone scammers have come up with the worst way to trick you out of your money.

By calling and asking, “Can you hear me?” scammers are trying to trick you into saying, “Yes.” Once they’ve got a recording of your verbal consent, they can use it for a lot of different, malicious purposes. In some cases, scammers are taking altering that recording to make it sound like you’ve agreed to purchase goods or services you were never asked about, then pressure you to pay up. In others, they make take that voice recording and use it to authorize charges after they’ve already stolen your credit card.

It sounds pretty terrifying — but there are ways to protect yourself.

1Hang up immediately.

“I know that people think it’s impolite to hang up, but it’s a good strategy,” the director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America, Susan Grant, told CBS News.

The best way to restrict access to your voice is to say nothing at all.

2Be cautious about answers calls from numbers you don’t know.

Even if the call is from your area code, be careful when you don’t know who the caller is. And if they start with a question, don’t answer with, “yes.”

“If it sounds like somebody is trying to get you to say ‘yes’ to something … Careful, don’t say anything,” Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus told KTLA. “The call that I got, it sounded like a woman was calling… She was bobbling her headset, and she said, ‘I’m sorry, I couldn’t get my headset on. Can you hear me?'”

If you answer, don’t do it in simple affirmatives.

3Beware of what information you give out.

Police are warning people not to give out personal information, confirm your phone number, or answer questions over the phone. If you suspect you’re being scammed, hang up and call the police instead.

4If you get one of these calls, report them.

“A lot of times, victims do not want to come forward because they are embarrassed,” Norfolk police officer Jo Ann Hughes told KTLA. “They feel like, ‘It was my fault. I should have known better,’ and they are just embarrassed by it all together. So we do not get a whole lot of reports, unfortunately.”

But scammers are tricky, and they rely on word not getting around about their scams. Once people are familiar with and wary of their techniques, they don’t work anymore.

5Sign up for a blocking service.

CBS News recommends registering for a free blocking service like Nomorobo to combat telemarketers, robocalls, and scams. Apps like these can help you stop the calls before they even start.

Scams are scary. But with a little help, you can protect yourself and your finances.

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