Don't pick up the phone to answer calls from unknown numbers. Instead, let them go to voicemail.
That's the operational security advice given to Americans by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in response to an ongoing series of attacks designed to trick victims into uttering a single word.
The FCC says in a March 27 alert that the scam centers on tricking victims into saying the word "yes," which fraudsters record and later use to attempt to make fraudulent charges on a person's utility or credit card accounts.
"The scam begins when a consumer answers a call and the person at the end of the line asks, 'Can you hear me?' The caller then records the consumer's 'Yes' response and thus obtains a voice signature," the FCC warns. "This signature can later be used by the scammers to pretend to be the consumer and authorize fraudulent charges via telephone."
Fake Tech Support
This isn't the first time that fraudsters have "weaponized" the telephone.
Scammers have long phoned consumers, pretending to be from a government agency such as the Internal Revenue Service. Another frequent ploy is pretending to be from the support department of a technology firm, such as Microsoft or Facebook, and then trying to get victims to pay for bogus security software meant to fix nonexistent problems on their PC (Researcher Unleashes Ransomware on Tech-Support Scammers).
Authorities have made some related arrests. Last year, Indian police arrested 70 suspects as part of an investigation into a fake IRS call center scam.
Also last year, the FTC announced a $10 million settlement with a Florida-based tech-support scheme, run by an organization called Inbound Call Experts, also known as Advanced Tech support. The FTC and the state of Florida said the organization ran "services falsely claiming to find viruses and malware on consumers' computers."
Follow the link below to see information on other scams you should be aware of.