'Can you hear me' phone scam coming to the UK


Financial Crime

It can be extremely frustrating to receive nuisance phone calls. Most companies call up to ask about PPI claims or loft insulation, and you can usually stop the conversation before it takes up too much of your time.

However, a new scam is showing that fraudsters only need a few minutes on the phone to try to get their hands on your money. The so-called 'can you hear me' phone scam from the US is making its way across the pond. To make sure you don't fall for this scam, we're taking you through how to spot it.

The technique

The scam starts when you receive a phone call from a local number. The person on the other end of the line introduces themselves and the company they supposedly work for.

They then ask 'Can you hear me?' while knowing that there is nothing wrong with the line. Fraudsters record your response and if you answer 'yes', they edit the recording to make it seem as though you've signed a verbal contract. This allows scammers to try and gain access to your money as several firms use voice recognition for business over the phone.

If you try to dispute the charges for products or services, fraudsters could use the recording and threaten legal action if you don't pay up. A second version of the scam sees fraudsters use the person's voice recording to authorise stolen credit cards.

There are some doubts of how effective this scam could be. As fraudsters would need to know your credit or debit card details to place any orders in your name. Plus, there's no evidence of a scammer authorising charges to another person just using a voice recording.

How to protect yourself

Although it might not be clear how criminals can use a voice recording to access your money, it is sensible to remain vigilant to this type of scam.

Here's a few tips on how to protect yourself from a scam

• Be cautious of phone calls if you don’t recognise the number.

• Put the phone down if someone calls and asks 'Can you hear me?'

• Hang up and call the company back on a trusted number from their website. The person on the other end of the line will be able to verify the call. Wait a few minutes before you call back to make sure the caller isn't still connected.

• Don’t give out any private information – thinkmoney or your bank will never ask for your PIN or online password over the phone.

• Register with the Telephone Preference Service to stop marketing calls from reputable companies. You can do this online or by calling 0345 070 0707.

Think you've fallen for this scam? Contact your bank or card provider as soon as possible. You can report a fraud through Action Fraud's online reporting tool.

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