Scam, usually aiming to siphon off cash from victims, thrive these days. While scammers have tonnes of means to steal money from their victims, the latest one is an alarming case. The world today has billions of phone owners, making this tiny device a great hotspot for con artists.
The Federal Communications Commission has recently issued a warning about a bizarre phone scam. Done via phone-to-phone calls, this relatively new modus tricks people to subscribe to paid services by asking them an introductory question that would trigger an affirmative response.
How this scam works
Swindlers call potential victims. Right off the bat, the caller will ask the victim with the question: "Can you hear me?" Once the victim says "Yes", that is all the scammer needs to subscribe a person to paid services, which will be an added item to the victim's phone bill.
According to cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, this modus is called "cramming" wherein "additional services are included in the bill of a subscriber without his or her consent". Some services include but not limited to daily messages with horoscopes and news.
How cramming is possible
In a blog post, the security company notes that cramming is possible "because phone companies allow the inclusion of third-party services in subscribers' bills. This form of consumer deception committed by malicious groups already happened in 2008.
After a series of investigations, it was found out that these scammers were actually editing audio recordings to make the phone conversation sound like there is a real agreement in between parties.
And in 2015, the FCC ordered mobile network giants Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corporation to pay US$158m to settle the claims of disgruntled customers.
In case you will encounter this modus in the future, what you can do to protect yourself is not to divulge any personal information such as home and business addresses, birthday, middle name and credit card and other bank-related details, among others.
The FCC suggests a radical solution to intercept scams and that is to avoid answering unknown or unregistered numbers right at the onset. In the event that you have shared already some personal details with the person on the other line, you have to immediately check all of your invoices and bills once they arrive to see if there are unexpected items.
However, if you find out that you paid for something you did not order, it might be difficult to get back whatever is taken from you. The best option is to report the scam to your bank so they could investigate the incident and prevent more people from falling prey to scams.