What kind of phone scam was this?


About a month ago, I got a phone call from an unknown number. Upon picking up, the person said verbatim, “Sorry I am having difficulty with my phone. I will call you right back”. They hung up and about 30 seconds later they called again. Curious as to what their next move would be, I picked up. They said the same exact thing, “Sorry I am having difficulty…” and hung up again! About 30 seconds later, they called again. This time I ignored the call, and they never called back.

They made no attempt at phishing or to sell anything. At first I figured they wanted to verify that they were contacting a valid phone number, but then why would they call back? Additionally, I haven’t since noticed any increase in unsolicited calls. Nothing phishy has shown up on my phone bill either.

Any ideas?

They had the wrong number or something. Why do you think it’s a scam?

Hi TriPolar,

I neglected to mention in my original post that both times, the spoken words were a recording.

I suppose calling it a scam without knowing more is a bit extreme. A better word would be “disingenuous”.

If recorded it is weird. Possibly they were trying to get you to say “OK”, which would be recorded and they would claim you agreed to something on the phone.

It may have been a system for telemarketers to determine when you are home - Determine when a good time for a “human” would be to call and reach you. This would save them time.

So did you get another call about the same time (maybe different day) from a human trying to sell you something?

Could be a robo caller going through a sequence of numbers looking for live responses.

Bad programming of the robo could account for the repeats or the robo’s job is to identify “live” pickups via the differences of your responses in two or more successive calls.

Your number probably successfully got placed on a list of “human answers” numbers for the robo caller’s “guaranteed” list that they will sell to other solicitors.

How sneaky…

Nope, looking through my call history, I actually have received no calls from telemarketers since that day…

This sounds likely. I have a feeling I’ll be bombarded soon.

Robot caller is very likely. But rather than worry about building call lists, it is likely that this is simply the recorded message you get when they don’t have a live person ready to talk to you. These systems have a room filled with tiny cubicles with people who do the actual marketing. There is a computer system that runs ahead of the actual people. It dials the numbers, and as soon as the call is answered it connects the call with the first available person in a cubicle. Sometimes it gets ahead of the game, and there isn’t anyone available. I get these a lot where the recorded message is a long silence (probably the predetermined wait time before it decides there isn’t going to be anyone available to talk to me) and then a rather stern woman’s voice that simply says “goodbye”. The message you get is more clever. Especially if the call comes with a caller id, so you can see the next call coming from the same source.

I agree with the above responses and why several people I know, most of my relatives actually, screen there calls. Those with Caller ID, many if not all of them still have landlines, dont answer unrecognized numbers and others let it go to voicemail then check the VM or listen as its being recorded depending the system the person uses. Some use the Phone company VM which would be checked shortly after the call and others have a VM machine.

So yeah I would expect your phone number to have ended up on some calling list somewhere as a “good” number.

I don’t have caller ID so when I answer the phone now I just pick it up and listen. Hopefully my friends are smart enough to say something like, “hello dude.” If it’s quiet for several seconds I just hang up. I assume it’s as a robot.

True. Never, ever say “yes” or “OK” on the phone unless you are sure of who has called you. Even if the question is, “Are you (your name)?” you can say, “That’s me,” or “That is my name,” without ever giving some scammer a chance to record your “yes.”

That’s just what I do to keep the robots at bay on my landline. The golden rule is never speak first.

You were supposed to say “Wait, I left the oven on”, which the other agent would recognize as the pass-phrase to know that you were in on the deal and could be trusted with the launch codes.

Any documented cases of this actually happening?

Yes. They tried it on me. I didn’t say anything and later got a robocall back saying I had committed to buying something. It played what they claimed was my response which was just some random noise. I just laughed and hung up. They’re just looking for suckers in ploys like that.

I think in this case the predictive dialing system Francis Vaughn described is most likely. It’s pretty clever to leave that message instead of ‘Goodbye’ or just hanging up. Some people might even be more likely to talk to the telemarketer after the call back.

Never, ever answer with “yes”. :smiley:

When I’m asked “Are you Ranger?” I reply “Who’s calling please?” I figure it’s the caller’s duty to identify himself. He should know who he called.

Possibly they were trying to cause you to initiate a call (back) to that number which could be routed to a high cost toll number, where they receive a percentage of the toll charged to your phone. This trick was popular years ago.