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Don't say yes when caller asks 'Can you hear me now?'

Is someone asking "Can you hear me?" on the phone when you pick up? If so, hang up. It could be a scam.

The "Can you hear me" scam has been targeting consumers for quite a few years. It's unclear exactly how the scam might play out, but consumer advocates, including the Better Business Bureau, say it's better to hang up and not engage.

What's the danger of the can you hear me scam?

It's likely the scammers are trying to get you to say "yes" or record your voice, which can then be used or edited to make it seem like you authorized something that you didn't, according to a scam alert from the BBB.

The BBB said it continues to receive reports to its Scam Tracker, the organization's tool that keeps an eye on reported scams across the country.

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Usually, the caller will hang up immediately after you respond to the question "Can you hear me?," the alert said. However, some consumers report that the calls can also be about banking, vacation packages, warranties and Medicare cards, the BBB said. The callers may be impersonating a business like your bank or another financial institution, a government agency, or an insurance company, the agency said.

Scammers may use a local number to appear legitimate.
Scammers may use a local number to appear legitimate.

“We encourage people to report this and other scams to BBB’s Scam Tracker," BBB spokeswoman Melanie McGovern told USA TODAY. "It helps to warn others that this activity is happening again. If you get a call, simply hang up without saying anything."

The BBB said that so far, no reports in the Scam Tracker mention monetary loss, though the agency is unsure if any victims have reported losses to other authorities. "However, it’s unclear how the scams will play out over time or if the targets will be victimized later," the BBB said.

How does the can you hear me scam work?

Here's how the scam works: You get a call from someone who quickly asks, “Can you hear me?” They want you to answer “Yes,” which you'd likely do instinctively, the BBB said.

The call might even be awkward or the person on the other line may say they're having trouble with their headset or that they'll call you back, "but in fact, the 'person' may be a robocall recording your conversation, and that 'Yes' answer you gave could later be edited to make it sound like you authorized a major purchase," the BBB said in its alert.

That yes could also confirm the scammer got a real working number, which could mean further targeting for scams, the BBB said.. The FCC in February issued a ruling making artificial intelligence-generated voices in robocalls illegal.Still other variations of the scam, the BBB, said, may include asking "Is this (fill in your name)" or another question, which would prompt a yes from you. The caller may not hang up right away either and may continue the conversation to attempt to steal your personal information or record more of your voice," the BBB said.

Beware: Pharmacist and her license were targeted by scammers. How to avoid becoming a victim.

What should I do?

Here are some tips from the BBB:

Use Caller ID to screen calls and consider not answering numbers you don't know). If it's urgent, they'll call you back, the BBB said. The BBB suggests reading the FCC’s article on how to stop unwanted robocalls and texts.

Just hang up. Scammers will change their methods as the public catches on, the BBB said, so be on the lookout for other questions designed to get you to say "yes," the BBB said.

Make a note of the number and report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker to alert others. The BBB said it shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so all information is helpful.

Join the Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov) to limit telemarketing and sales calls. This might not cut down on scam calls, since they don't pay attention to the law, but it will cut down on your overall calls, the BBB said.

◾ Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for charges you didn't make. Also, review your telephone and cellphone bills, the BBB said. Scammers could use your "yes" to authorize charges you didn't really OK, the BBB said. "This is called 'cramming,' and it’s illegal. If you’re worried, notify your bank and credit card company. They may be able to put an alert on your accounts for unauthorized transactions or freeze your credit cards temporarily," the BBB said.

Betty Lin-Fisher is a consumer reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at blinfisher@USATODAY.com or follow her on X, Facebook, or Instagram @blinfisher. Sign up for our free The Daily Money newsletter, which will include consumer news on Fridays, here.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inside the 'Can you hear me now' scam and why you should hang up