In the newest scam that's being seen locally and nationally, one small word could land you in a world of trouble.
It's being called the "Can you hear me?" phone scam and the people behind it have one simple goal - getting you to say the word "yes."
This scam was first reported late last year, but authorities have noticed a surge in calls over the last few days. Four cases have been reported in Hawaii as of Monday morning.
Consumers say the scam calls are about vacation packages, cruises, warranties, and other big ticket items.
"I got a call with the same area code and I thought maybe I knew them. When I picked up, the person was like 'hello, hello,' and when I said 'hello,' they said, 'Can you hear me?' I said 'yes,' and they said, 'perfect,' and proceeded to tell me I won some sort of vacation," said Honolulu resident Carley Sponder.
So far, no one has reported money loss, but it’s unclear how the scams will play out over time, or if the targets will be victimized at a later date.
Here's how the scam works:
You receive a call from someone who claims to be a representative of a company, like a home security agency or the government. The call could come as a recording or an actual person.
The scammer will then ask you, "Can you hear me?"
If you say "yes," there is a chance the scam artist recorded your response and can use it to initiate unauthorized purchases and services.
The Better Business Bureau of Hawaii says because the scam has made national headlines, scam artists may try to change their tactics and ask different questions like, "Are you over the age of 18?" or "Do you work outside the home?"
In some cases, the scam artists already have access to some of your personal information, like credit cards numbers, to use with your recorded response.
"Scams can hurt you, in various amounts of ways. If you hear something like this, just hang up. Especially if it's from a number you don't know," said Jason Kama, of Better Business Bureau Hawaii.
Experts also say recommend not answering calls from numbers you don't recognize. You should also never give your personal information over the phone.
If you do receive one of these calls, you are asked to write down the number and file a scam report with the BBB.