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Scammers are calling and asking, "can you hear me?"

Avoiding the new phone scam that’s plaguing the country may involve betraying your good Southern manners. If you receive a phone call from someone asking “can you hear me,” don’t respond. Hang up.

CBS News reports that police departments across the country are warning against responding “yes” to the “can you hear me” con that first popped up in Pennsylvania late last year. The scam is reportedly a variation on earlier cons aimed at getting the victim to say the word “yes” in a phone conversation. A person’s “yes” is recorded and used to authorize unwanted charges on a phone or utility bill or on a stolen credit card.

“Essentially they’re looking for you to say yes so they can use your recorded voice as an affirmative response to maybe make a charge on a credit card or to make a charge on your phone bill or have you authorize something that you’re not authorizing,” Sgt. Joe Mahoney with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office tells WKRG.

Thieves often already have your credit card number, and just need your voice for purchases that may require an extra level of protection. And the question they ask may not always be “can you hear me?”

“They’ll ask you a simple question, are you the man of the house, are you the woman of the house, do you pay the bills in the house, they’re looking for you to say yes,” says Mahoney.

Worried you’ve already fallen victim to the insidious trap? Check your credit card, phone and cable statements carefully for any unfamiliar charges. Call the billing company and dispute anything you didn’t knowingly authorize. If they say you have been recorded approving the charge and you have no recollection of that, ask for proof, CBS advises.

If you find yourself answering a suspicious call, consider responding to an answer like:  “speaking?” or “Who are you, and why do you want to know?”

For more information on disputing credit card charges, visit the Federal Trade Commission.

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