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Scammers are constantly inventing new ways to take advantage of consumers. The latest phone scam to keep your ears open for has made up the majority of the reports to Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker over the last several weeks across America and even Canada.

 What is the scam exactly?

In some instances, you receive a call with an automated recording asking for confirmation of your name, usually “Is your name…” or “Are you…”  Other calls begin with the caller stating that they are having an issue with their headset and asking you if you can hear them. While both of these instances sound innocent enough, remember, the caller is just attempting to get a “yes” answer from you. The call then attempts to sell you items such as cruise packages or alarm systems.

What is so special about the word “yes?”

There have been theories that the “yes” recordings may be used as confirmation that the call recipient agreed to purchase the cruise or alarm system (or whatever else was being offered). The recipient would then have difficulties refuting charges because the scammers use their own voice against them. Many argue that since no personal or financial information is revealed from simply saying “yes,” that it would be impossible to charge someone from these items in the first place. Some experts also suggest that scammers could use your voice recording (“yes”) in an attempt to authorize bank payments from your account. There have not been any reported instances of consumers losing money to this scam, and it is unclear as to what kind of payments could be authorized by voice alone.

While the premise of this scam is murky, it’s suspicious and warrants a notification.  A consumer’s best bet is to simply hang-up the phone without responding.

We’ve put together some suggestions for avoiding spam calls similar to this:

  • Sign up for both the Massachusetts and the federal Do Not Call lists. Telemarketers, by law, are not allowed to call these listed numbers.
  • Sign up for systems that block robocalls and telemarketers. Services such as nomorerobo are free to use for landlines. There is a small subscription fee for cell phones.
  • Don’t answer the call if you don’t know the number. Answering the phone or engaging with telemarketers lets them know the phone is in use which can result in continued calls.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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