What Is the “Say Yes” Scam?

Quick Answer

In a “say yes” scam, a caller poses a simple question in hopes of prompting you to respond with the word “yes.” This one-word answer then can lead to more calls from scammers or even credit or debit card fraud.

Male hand holding a smartphone with unknown caller displayed on screen.

Media reports and social media posts increasingly warn of a scheme you may not be familiar with—the "say yes" scam.

So what is the "say yes" scam? A caller poses a simple question in hopes of prompting you to respond with the word "yes." If you answer, it can lead to more calls from scammers or even credit or debit card fraud.

Can You Get Scammed by Saying "Yes" on the Phone?

It may be hard to believe, but you can get scammed by responding with the word "yes" to a question that a caller asks. Here's how this scam might work:

  • A "say yes" call might originate from an unknown number that appears to be from a local area code. The scammer typically pretends to be a representative of a legitimate financial institution, government agency or another organization.
  • The scam might start by a call asking, "Can you hear me?" or "Are you the homeowner?" Their goal: Get you to utter the word "yes," which wouldn't be an unusual response to those questions.
  • The caller then might say something along the lines of "I'm having trouble with my headset" or "I'll call you right back." The person on the other end of the phone may not be an actual person, though. Instead, it might be a robo-caller recording your "yes" answer, which then might be used to confirm authorization of a major purchase on your credit or debit card.
  • In a credit card scam or debit card scam, the fraudster might already have your card number. Once they've obtained your "yes" answer, the fraudster might sign up for a product or service and use the recorded answer to verify the purchase.
  • The recorded "yes" answer also might confirm that your phone number is legitimate, paving the way for future phone scams.
  • In another scenario, a caller may ask, "Is this [your name]?" or some other question that would cause you to say "yes." Once you've answered "yes," the scammer might extend the call to steal your personal information or record more of your voice.

How to Protect Yourself Against Scam Phone Calls

Here are six ways to protect yourself against scam phone calls:

  1. Resist answering the phone if you don't recognize the caller's number.
  2. Block unknown numbers.
  3. If a caller asks a question that normally would lead to a "yes" answer, provide a different answer—such as "I can hear you" or "this is she"—and end the call right away. Better yet, simply hang up without saying a word.
  4. Don't provide personal or financial information to someone you don't know.
  5. Pay attention to red flags. For instance, be suspicious if you receive an unexpected call from a business or government agency.
  6. If a caller is posing as a representative of a business, government agency or another organization, reach out to that organization through a verified phone number.

What to Do if Your Identity Is Stolen in a Phone Scam

If you believe you're the victim of identity theft as a result of a "say yes" scam or any other phone scam:

  1. Immediately notify your financial institutions and credit card issuers.
  2. Contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You have the right to ask them for a credit freeze, which restricts access to your credit reports. Freezing your credit comes at no cost to you.
  3. Change passwords for your online accounts, such as bank and credit card accounts.
  4. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission and your local police department.

How to Stop Unwanted Phone Calls

Fortunately, you can take steps to stop unwanted phone calls. They include:

  • Sign up for the free National Do Not Call Registry. This limits the types of organizations that can call you. Specifically, the registry is aimed at blocking calls from telemarketers.
  • Find out whether your phone service provider or phone manufacturer offers apps or other technology to block suspected spam calls.
  • Be careful with caller ID. Scammers can make legitimate-looking phone numbers pop up on caller ID.

The Bottom Line

The "say yes" scam is just one of many scams that fraudsters have cooked up. To prevent being lured into a "say yes" scam, don't answer calls from phone numbers that you don't recognize and don't give out personal or financial information to someone you don't know. And in case your identity ends up being stolen in a "say yes" scam, consider signing up for Experian's free credit monitoring service.