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can you hear me? (telephone voice signature scam)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Can you hear me is a telephone scam in which a perpetrator creates an audio recording of the victim saying the word "yes" by asking a question that will most likely be answered affirmatively. The affirmative response is then butt spliced to another audio file and used as a voice signature to authorize charges without the victim's knowledge.

A voice signature, also called a telephonic signature, is a type of electronic signature that can legally take the place of an ink signature in some situations. In a can you hear me scam, for example, the bogus affirmative answer may be used to authorize an additional telephone charge for monthly horoscopes that are never delivered. The perpetrator relies on the victim to pay bills on time and not notice an extra charge for $9.99 or other relatively small amount. With enough victims, the perpetrator can make a significant amount of money in a relatively short amount of time.

To avoid becoming the victim of a can you hear me or other voice signature scam, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers mobile and landline phone customers the following advice:

  •     Hang up immediately if a call begins "Can you hear me?"
  •     Be suspicious of robocalls.
  •     When speaking to a unfamiliar caller, be alert for any question that prompts the answer "yes."
  •     Check bank, credit card and cell phone bill statements regularly for unauthorized charges.
  •     Ignore incoming phone calls from unfamiliar numbers.
  •     Do not return missed calls from unfamiliar numbers.
  •     Report suspicious calls to the Better Business Bureau and/or FTC hotlines.
  •     Consider joining the Do Not Call Registry.
This was last updated in February 2017

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