Fraudsters and scammers are wily pieces of crap who are basically the scum of the earth. But you have to grudgingly give them credit: you never know what they’re going to think of next, and when it comes to taking criminal advantage of the decency and kindheartedness of many people, they have no equal.
Consider what police are saying about the latest scam. You get a phone call out of the blue from a number that your phone identifies as from your area code, making you much more likely to answer it because it could be a friend or family member calling in an emergency from a strange local number. The person on the other ends starts yakking, and early in the conversation the person says “Can you hear me?” Most people, of course, will say “yes” — and that starts them on the road to perdition.
Why? Because your “yes” answer is recorded, and then used to indicate your assent to some unwanted product or service. And if you try to argue that you never agreed to get that magazine subscription or internet debugging service, the recording of your “yes” answer gets used as evidence that you in fact agreed. In the worst case, the scammer has your credit card number and uses the “yes” with a third party to authorize charges for goods that the crook gets but you are billed for.
It’s tough, because many of us are trained to be polite, even in response to an unwanted call. We listen to the pitch about the charitable opportunity or the policeman’s benevolent fund and look for an opportunity to say, “thanks, but no thanks.” But now the advice from law enforcement is to not say anything — and if you’re asked “Can you hear me?,” hang up immediately.
In this case, you just don’t want to get to “yes.”