That Annoying Silent Call Could Only Be the Beginning

There’s a good chance you’ve answered your ringing phone only to be met with nothing: that silent call could be the prelude to something worse.

How many times does it happen to you? Your phone rings, you look at Caller ID and suspect it’s probably a sales call, but you feel a bit adventurous and decide to answer the phone anyway.

And when you do, there’s no answer from the caller. No human, no recording, just silence.

Usually, within a second or so, the call abruptly ends without any explanation.

The widely-held assumption with such calls is a simple, perfectly plausible one: auto-dialers, devices that dial numbers and then connect calls straight to waiting telemarketers, sometimes dial faster than an agent can answer, meaning that some calls will be connected just when there happens to be no one to take it.

But a recent NPR report suggests it could be something else…something much worse.

An Atlanta-based security expert told NPR that silent call is “essentially the first of the reconnaissance calls that these fraudsters do,” with their first mission trying to determine the most basic of questions: is a human being on the other end?

If the computer knows a human being (rather than, for example a computer modem or fax machine) answers the phone, it knows it’s a valid number that can then be forwarded to one of those fraudsters whose second step is even more dangerous.

There’s another common suggestion out there from security experts that if you receive a sales call — from a machine or human — that you should be careful when asked a yes-or-no question: if they get a recording of your voice saying, “Yes,” they can use that recording to claim that you authorized charges on your credit card.

It’s enough to make you not even want to answer the phone!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.