Can You Hear Me? Scammers.


ScamRemember the Verizon Wireless commercial where the guy asked “can you hear me now?” That commercial is no longer on the air, but the question is still being asked – by scammers.

Yes, one of the newest scams making the rounds goes something like this. You get a call on your cell phone and the person on the other end asks “can you hear me?” The way you answer this seemingly innocent question can determine if you become the latest victim.

When you hear someone on the other line ask “can you hear me,” your reflexive response may be the simply say yes. Unfortunately, that is exactly the answer the scammers want to hear. Their question is nothing more than a ploy to get you to say that word – yes.

Once you say yes, the scammer can use that response to authorize phony charges on bills and credit cards, and to make it seem like you agreed to something. The scammer can also use other questions in order to get you to say yes, such as “do you pay the bill for this phone number?”

Another ploy these criminals use is to get you to press a certain button on your phone, which they can also use to fraudulently signify your agreement or permission.

Often these scammers have already obtained some of your personal and financial information via some other stolen data and the “yes” is what they need if you attempt to dispute charges on your credit card or an agreement to purchase a product or service.

Experts who deal with fraud and scams, including the FCC, suggest that the best way to deal with this scam is simply to not answer any calls where the number is not recognizable. If you do pick up, simply hang up when someone just blurts out a random question. You can also add your number, both home and cell phone to the national Do Not Call Registry.

In this age of electronic scams and fraud, it is so important to protect your personal information, especially you credit card numbers, PIN numbers and social security number. Stay on top of your financial information by frequently checking your credit card and banking statements. Often, the sooner you catch financial fraud, the better your odds of recouping your losses and preventing further loss.

Be smart. Be strong. And always stay alert.

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Misleading Advertising

Misleading Advertising. Online Advertising.

Misleading Advertising. Online Advertising.

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is finally taking notice of the plethora of private companies (not affiliated with the USPTO) who solicit trademark applicants, with deceptive and misleading communications that look official.

BEWARE! These companies gather trademark applicant information from the USPTO database (which is public record), and solicit those applicants for money.  The offer a service, (usually one you’ve already paid for if you have a lawyer) in exchange for a fee, e.g., legal services, trademark monitoring services, US Customs and Border Protection recordation services, to name a few.

These companies will use names that look like the USPTO name, and some are so unscrupulous that they even make their communication look like an official government document.  And, if you don’t know any better, it is easy to be defrauded.  Unfortunately we live in an era when we must always be on the alert, because there are many enterprising souls just waiting to take advantage of you.

What can you do?

  1. Do NOT pay them anything;
  2. If you have a lawyer, contact them immediately;
  3. File an online consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC);
  4. Contact the USPTO by email ( and include:
    • A copy of the misleading and deceptive communication with the envelope,
    • Let the USPTO know if you thought the communication was an official US government document (or if you had to ask an attorney to clarify it for you),
    • Indicate to the USPTO if you paid a fee in response to the misleading communication and for what purpose.

Protect Yourself, Protect Your Assets, Protect Your Family!

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward looking out for you.

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