New ‘do you hear me’ phone scam makes its way to Australia

A new scam that involves supplying victims with unwanted goods has emerged in Australia, after doing the rounds in the US and UK.

According to Triple M in Brisbane, Aussies should we wary of answering calls from private or unknown numbers, or employ a call-blocking app that detects dodgy calls, as a result.

Scammers call random numbers using private or unknown numbers and when you answer, ask you if you can hear them, the report explains. When you answer ‘yes,’ that is recorded and edited to make it appear that you had agreed to make a big purchase, such as a holiday or home security system, over the phone.

Triple M says that simply answering ‘yes’ constitutes a verbal contract, as does clicking ‘agree’ or ‘buy’ on your computer, so enables the scammers to later bill you for product or services and, when you complain, play back the verbal confirmation and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay up.

Police in the US started warning about the scam last year, saying that scammers were also using the recordings of peoples’ voices to try to trick automated banking or other systems, allowing them to bypass the usual security checks. 

The Norfolk Police Department in Virginia distributed this advice:

  • Don’t answer the phone from numbers you don’t recognise
  • Don’t agree to press any buttons on your phone
  • Don’t give out personal information
  • Don’t confirm your number over the phone
  • Don’t answer questions over the phone.

And anti-fraud experts in the UK, who started warning of the same scam in February, advised calling your bank or card provider immediately if you believe you’ve already been caught by the trickster.

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