In the latest ploy by scammers to steal your hard-earned cash, criminals use the lure of a free vacation to convince targets to hand over their credit card information. What these thieves also obtain is involuntary permission to charge expensive trip features on these credit cards by convincing people to answer “yes” to the question, “Can you hear me okay?”
In this scam, a robocall (automated dialing system that plays a pre-recorded message) calls a target to pitch the free vacation. Here’s how an actual call begins:
“Hello, this is Josh from customer service. Can you hear me okay?”
Pause for several seconds.
“Great. You have been preselected for an all-expenses paid vacation which includes tickets and…”
The robocall doesn’t sound automated at this point. It attempts to simulate a live person to get the target to respond to the question, “Can you hear me okay?” A person who hears this and doesn’t know the call is from a robocaller will usually respond by saying “yes” in response to the question. If the target responds to the question with a “yes,” the scammer has what he needs to authorize charges on a credit card the scammer hopes to obtain later in the call.
This call continued with the free trip offer and outlined the many benefits of this windfall. To secure the trip and pay for any incidentals that aren’t included in the free package, all a person has to do is offer a credit card number over the phone. The scammer promises that no charges will be applied to the card unless the person makes additional purchases on the trip. That promise couldn’t be further away from the truth.
If a person provides a credit card number to this scammer, the criminal will make expensive charges on the card associated with the “free” trip. When the victim receives a credit card statement that outlines these expenses charges he didn’t agree to, the person will naturally phone the “company” to complain. The scammer who responds will aggressively tell the target that he agreed to the charges during the call, and that they have his “yes” confirmation to approve the charges.
The “yes” confirmation of course came at the beginning of the call in response to the “Can you hear me okay?” question. That’s how devious these criminals can be in their efforts to steal your money.
You have to arm yourself with the knowledge to protect yourself from these deceitful criminals to avoid becoming a victim. Here’s how you can prevent this deceptive crook from stealing your cash:
- Never answer a phone call unless you know the identity of the caller. This will prevent most telephone scams from connecting with you.
- If you answer the phone and the person doesn’t say the name of the company he or she is connected with, the person is probably a scammer. In the robocall above, Josh stated he is from “customer service.” What company is that? Customer service is usually the name of a department within a company, not the name of the company itself. Hang up the phone.
- A business will never call random people with whom they have no established relationship to offer free vacation packages. If a person calls to offer anything for free, hang up immediately, especially if the caller doesn’t know your name. The person is using the pretense of offering something for free to try to take your money.
Nobody can stop these criminals from reaching out to you. Nobody is going to tell you when you’re under attack by one of these criminals. Nobody is going to stop you from giving the criminal what he or she wants. Only you can defend yourself when you come under fire by a criminal.
Always remain skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true and do your best to update your knowledge frequently with the latest tricks scammers might use to steal from you. Own your defense to stay safe from criminals.