I know it's a strong word but I HATE these people who do phone scams and take advantage of the elderly or anyone else for a buck.

According to CBS affiliate WTKR, answering a simple question could get you scammed.

'Can you hear me?' It is a simple question, but police say answering it could make you the victim of a scam.

“Anytime you become victim to a crime, you just feel violated,” said Officer Jo Ann Hughes with the Norfolk Police Department.

Here’s how it works. Police say you’ll receive a phone call from a number you do not know.

“Usually it has a familiar area code,” Hughes told News 3’s Merris Badcock, making the potential victim more likely to answer the call.

Police say after you answer the phone, a person on the other end of the line introduces themselves and their business.

“That kind of warms you up,” Hughes said, warning this portion of the call could also be an automated recording.

After the introduction comes the questions: ‘can you hear me?’

“All of us, our natural response is to say, yes, or sure, or yes I can,” said Hughes, but she says this is exactly what you do not want to do.

Police say scammers record your ‘yes’ response, and then use it to sign you up for a product or service you never asked for.

If you try to deny the charges, the scammers will playback your verbal confirmation ‘yes’ and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay.

“A lot of times, victims do not want to come forward because they are embarrassed. They feel like, ‘It was my fault. I should have known better,’ and they are just embarrassed by it all together. So we do not get a whole lot of reports, unfortunately,” said Hughes.

Police say to avoid this scam, follow this advice.

  1. Do not answer the phone from numbers you do not recognize,
  2. Do not give out personal information,
  3. Do not confirm your number over the phone,
  4. Do not answer questions over the phone.

And finally this piece of advice: hang up the phone and call 911 instead.

[via: CBS affiliate WTKR TV]