If you answer the phone and hear this, hang up and call the police

Most of us are used to receiving at least one call from an unknown number every day. In fact, it’s a good day if that’s the only unwanted call we get. And despite warnings not to take calls from strangers, we often pick up just in case — especially when we think it might be important. But if you tend to answer the phone when you see an unfamiliar number, it’s important to know how to tell if the person on the other end is trying to scam you. Now the authorities have issued a new warning to protect you. Read on to find out what to look out for.

READ NEXT: If you pick up your phone and hear this, hang up, FBI says in new alert.

worried woman looking at mobile phone

You may have experienced a temporary lull in phone scams early in the COVID pandemic, but unfortunately the situation has since worsened. “We’ve seen the first major drop in robocalls [in 2020] because call centers were closed, but now robocalls are exploding”, Alex QuiliciCEO of robocall block software developer YouMail, told AARP in May 2022.

According to YouMail, robocalls in the US hit an all-time high in October 2019 with an estimated 5.7 billion calls before falling to 3 billion per month in spring 2020. Over the past year, however, that number has picked up again, with robocalls averaging around 4.1 billion per month. “Having computers dialing a series of numbers is a fast, efficient and extremely cheap way to reach as many people as possible,” Quilici told the news agency, noting that the current rate is over 1,500 fraudulent phone calls per second is equivalent to.

Now the authorities are warning the Americans, above all, about telephone scams.


Police in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania are now urging the public to be alert to a phone scam, local news station WFMZ reported. The Wyomissing Police Department posted a “scam alert” on its website on Sept. 22, warning residents about scammers calling the department and posing.

“We have noticed that people are receiving calls claiming to be from a representative of the Wyomissing Police Department,” authorities wrote, noting that the scam call “made references to a subpoena and the safety of a family member.”

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Shot of an elderly woman talking on her cellphone while sitting in her room

Phone scams posing as police officers are not uncommon. Back in May, authorities in Connecticut and North Carolina warned of robocalls, in which scammers would pretend to be police officers and ask victims to verify personal information or threatened them with messages about a fake pending warrant. But according to Wyomissing authorities, there’s one clear sign you’re dealing with a scammer and not a real police department: an automated voice on the other end of the line.

“The voice is obviously a computer-generated voice,” the Wyomissing Police Department wrote in their alert. “If you should receive a call like this, it is some kind of fraud. If you were contacted by someone from the Wyomissing Police Department, the voice would be that of a human and not a computer.”

Hang up phone call

The Wyomissing Police Department also warned Americans that authorities would never call and ask for money to avoid an arrest. And you’ll never be asked to pay a fine with gift cards, either, so consider it another important red flag when an automated caller requests money from you this way.

“If you should receive such a call, contact your local police department to inform them,” the Wyomissing Police Department wrote in its fraud alert.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also asking you to report your agency’s call. “The FTC takes illegal caller phone numbers you report and releases them to the public every business day. This helps phone companies and other partners working on call blocking and call labeling solutions,” the agency said. “Their reports also help law enforcement identify the individuals behind illegal calls.” If you answer the phone and hear this, hang up and call the police

Sarah Y. Kim

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