The Kewaunee County Comet phone line rang, and your humble reporter answered in his usual fashion.
“Hi, this is Bob with an offer about your credit card account,” said the voice on the other end. “Am I coming through OK?”
Bob sounded friendly enough and the instinct was, of course, to tell him “Yes, I can hear you just fine.”
That’s the insidious part of the latest scam making the rounds. It’s so easy to say “yes.”
The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department describes the problem in this news release:
The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department is advising residents to be on high alert and prevent themselves from falling victim to a scam that has been making national news with the potential of catching anyone off-guard, at any time.
It is being referred to as the “Can You Hear Me?” scam. This is a scenario where the caller is trying to get the person on the other end of the line to answer their question with, “Yes.” The response is reportedly being recorded and then used to try and authorize charges to a credit card or even a phone or cable company.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that consumers say the calls are about vacation packages, cruises, warranties and other big ticket items. And, as soon as perpetrators achieve their goal, they literally disappear, says Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski.
“The phone number which was provided for you to contact them will no longer work, and their email address that they may have given you to reach out to them will not exist,” Joski said.
Sheriff Joski also warns that if there is any sort of delay or pause when you pick up the phone, hang up. The chances are it is an automated call.
This is also the season when scammers tend to prey on taxpayers with the threat of an audit or arrest, unless there is immediate payment. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonator who is calling will likely give a fake name and bogus ID badge number to make it seem like they are the real deal.
The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department reminds us that at no time would a government agency demand money over the phone to satisfy a fine or obligation.
“Many times these fraudulent callers will use different scare tactics to gain compliance. This again should be a reason to doubt the legitimacy of the caller,” Joski said.
Experts further suggest letting calls from phone numbers that you don’t recognize go to voicemail or the answering machine. If it is important, the person calling will more than likely leave a message, unlike a scammer.
If you need to reach out to the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department about possibly falling victim to a scam, call the non-emergency number at (920) 388-3100.
Other useful resources:
Wisconsin Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org/wisconsin
Do Not Call Registry: donotcall.gov/