CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office has issued a scam alert warning consumers to not answer the question, “Can you hear me now?”
Morrisey's office says answering that one question can subject consumers to the latest scam. Media reports indicate the scam is circulating throughout the country, including the northern West Virginia area.
It typically starts with an unsolicited phone call, during which the caller claims to represent a business or agency. Moments later, he or she will claim to have a bad connection or ask if the consumer can hear clearly – in effect, “Can you hear me now?”
The scam depends upon a “yes” from the consumer, an answer the perpetrator records and misuses as the consumer agreeing to pay for a product or service.
“I urge consumers to hang up the phone,” Morrisey said in a statement. “This is a particularly troubling scam. I urge everyone to be on guard and tell others you know.”
Consumers also should be aware of other tactics used to lure an affirmative answer. If their initial effort fails, they may ask any number of other questions hoping to solicit a “yes.”
Scammers then use the consumer’s phone number or other personal information, already collected through data breach or other scam, to initiate a fraudulent charge. When the charge is disputed, the audio recording is used to argue the consumer consented to the charge.
Here are a few tips to follow:
* Simply hang up the phone.
* Avoid giving any affirmative answer, such as yes.
* Frequently check bank and financial accounts to spot any fraudulent charges.
* Dispute any fraudulent charges.
Those who believe they have been the victim or have questions are asked to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.