But that question, so innocent-seeming, has become weaponized in the hands of a bunch of scamming robocallers. The Better Business Bureau reported this week that scammers were calling unsuspecting people, asking people on the other end of the line if they can hear them, then hanging up.
Why? Well the secret is in the response of those receiving the scam call: Basically, callers say “yes,” or “yeah,” or something similar, and the scammers have a vocal response from the person that can then be used to falsely approve a major purchase.
“Reports of this scam are rapidly increasing in our service area,” BBB’s Paula Fleming said in a news release. “BBB is warning consumers to not respond and immediately hang up if they receive a call and the caller asks, "Can you hear me?”
It’s a nice reminder that scam calls are serious business. Fortunately, the tools we have to fight such calls are getting better. In recent months, the iOS app Nomorobo has gained notice for its ability to deftly block spam calls painlessly by automatically detecting them and either muting them or sending them directly to voicemail. It’s pretty cool, and it beats getting the annoying calls at all.
But can we all agree that robocalls suck? It's way better to call weird numbers than for weird numbers to call you.