Fraudsters call on the smartphone or landline and lurk. atechbook editorial director Andreas Filbig has himself received such a call. He reveals how the rip-off works, how expensive it can get for you and, above all, how you can protect yourself.
The next time your phone rings and an unknown number calls, you better be skeptical right away. Again and again, scammers use a mean trick, which has spilled over from the USA to Europe and thus also to Germany, and which is almost impossible to detect in advance.
The scam is hard to see through
With questions like “Can you hear me?” or “Are you the homeowner?” the caller tries to elicit the word “Yes” from you, as reported by the NRW consumer center and now we also had to discover. These and other parts of the conversation are then later cut together in such a way that the impression is created that the person called has placed an expensive order on the phone.
I also received such a call. The number was from Brussels. The call lasted only a few seconds. I don’t remember exactly what I said. But when I googled the number, it quickly became clear what it was about. Because other users reported the following:
In my case, I haven’t heard anything since and hope I haven’t been taken in by the scam. However, not everyone is so lucky.
The nasty surprise often follows a few days later in the mailbox: an expensive bill. If you refuse to pay, you quickly come under pressure from the scammers – who insist on the false telephone recording with the clear “yes” to an alleged purchase contract and even threaten you with a negative Schufa entry or the debt collection agency. A reader of the online portal “Heise” even received a callback immediately after he refused to answer with “Yes” and hung up. He was threatened with a fine of 125 euros for interrupting the call.
Also interesting: Spam numbers you should not answer!
How should I behave on the phone?
In any case, be skeptical of unknown callers and avoid answering “yes”, even to supposedly harmless questions. If the conversation seems strange, you can simply hang up. If you have nevertheless fallen victim to such a scam: don’t panic!
The consumer advice center advises, for example, the following answers: Do not answer “Yes” to “Can you hear me?” but “I hear you.
Attorney Christian Solmecke advises: “Contracts can normally also be concluded over the phone. In this case, however, the alleged seller must prove that the contract has been concluded. For this he must have submitted a concrete offer to you on the telephone. However, this is not the case here. In this context, you should also not be irritated by a pre-recorded telephone conversation.”
In general, according to Solmecke, such a recording can only be used if the person called has agreed to it beforehand. So don’t let yourself be pressured and under no circumstances should you pay the sum stated in the invoice. If in doubt, contact the consumer advice center, a lawyer or the police – because in this case, the scammer could also file a criminal complaint.
Contract effective without signature?
Even if it sounds a bit strange, a contract concluded on the phone is legally valid even without subsequent written confirmation. To terminate such a contract, however, it must again be in writing. This is precisely what consumer protection agencies have been complaining about for years. They demand that contracts concluded on the phone only become valid with a subsequent signature. Consumers would thus be given time to think things over and could not simply be taken by surprise during the call. Unfortunately, politicians have not yet been able to agree on such a generally applicable regulation.