Strangers don't always mean something good when they ask seemingly harmless questions. The next scenario may be telephone fraud.

It may happen that strangers contact you. In most cases this is not a bad thing. Sometimes, however, there is also a deliberate intent behind it. Telephone scams . For example, if they ask you “Can you hear me?”, you should be careful.

Telephone scams: this is why a “yes” can mean trouble

Within the broad spectrum of telephone fraud, there is a scam in which a discreet question is used to obtain a contract. As the consumer service centre explains, the procedure is not new and, in the worst case, can lead to completely unnoticed, albeit unjustified, obligations: a telephone fraud in which the called party is forced to say one fateful word: “Yes.”

The nature of the approach is particularly bold. Using discreet questions such as “Can you hear me?”, people on the phone are tricked into accepting loudly and clearly. In reality, callers are interested in presenting their victims with contracts that were supposedly signed by saying “yes” over the phone. A few days later, the first corresponding bill may arrive at your home due to telephone fraud, which often goes unnoticed.

Defending yourself against telephone fraud: this is how it works

The good news is that you don't have to pay those so-called bills. Only those who do not know or feel intimidated can end up bearing high and unnecessary costs. However, in such cases there are experts available to advise and support those affected.

As, for example, the Consumer Center of North Rhine-Westphalia advises, it is not advisable to simply ignore the incident, but to defend yourself against this type of telephone fraud using a sample letter. Behind this are usually dubious debt collection agencies or magazine subscription distributors. Even supposedly binding mobile phone contracts are obtained through telephone fraud.

Additionally, you can try to avoid saying “yes” in unsolicited sales conversations and instead answer questions like “Can you hear me?” Also explain to the person on the other end of the line that you're not interested, or best of all, just hang up.

What phone numbers are dangerous?

There are platforms like “Clever Dialer” where users report suspicious numbers and their experiences. In the telephone spam control section, for example, you will find updated information on possible telephone scammers and their connections every month. You can recognize such numbers immediately when the call comes in.

At the same time, today there are various and very different types of telephone fraud. In addition to the well-known grandson trick, unknown persons also try to steal money using expensive 0900 numbers. Consumer service centers regularly provide information on current cases.

If you have suffered telephone fraud or at least suspect that it could be, you can report it to the consumer service center and the Federal Network Agency. Beforehand, try to write down the caller's name and company, as well as the date, time, phone number, and content of the conversation.

New regulation against advertising calls

For more than a year, at least companies have found it more difficult to burden you with advertising over the phone. At that time, new legislation came into force that set stricter limits: “On May 28, the new consumer protection law comes into force, according to which companies must document whether the people they call explicitly want to receive telephone advertising. . The change in the law has some advantages for consumers and disadvantages for spam callers.”

This is intended, among other things, to establish stricter guidelines in areas such as contract conditions, automatic renewal and termination. But “high fines for telephone scams” ​​are also included. This means a little more relief for consumers.

Sources: consumer advice centers, Clever Dialer, own research.

By Dana Neumann