Grandparent Scams on the rise and according to AARP, “Grandparent scams typically work something like this: The victim gets a call from someone posing as his or her grandchild. This person explains, in a frantic-sounding voice, that he or she is in trouble: There’s been an accident, or an arrest, or a robbery. The impostor offers just enough detail about where and how the emergency happened to make it seem plausible and perhaps turns the phone over to another scammer who pretends to be a doctor, police officer or lawyer and backs up the story. The “grandchild” implores the target to wire money immediately, adding an anxious plea: ‘Don’t tell Mom and Dad!’ “
And if the scammer can get you to take the bait, you may be caught in a scam causing you thousands of dollars.
However, there are ways to tell if the calls are legit:
- Major tip-off is you know where your grandchildren are and the call sounds “off” or “fishy”.
- The caller claims they are your grandchild asking for you to send money immediately in a gift card, prepaid card or gives you wiring instructions. (Note: once money is wired – it’s gone and there is minimal ways to get it back.)
- Generally, calls come late at night thinking the “grandparent” will be confused if woken up late.
How you can avoid falling for a “Grandparent” Scam:
- If you’re on social media, set your privacy settings so that only people you know see your posts and pictures. Scammers use social media like Facebook and Instagram to hunt down victims.
- If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately and call your grandchild in question or other family members. If it is legit, you can talk to them personally on their phone. If your grandchild knows nothing about the previous call, you just cut off the scammer. Then BLOCK that number from your phone.
- Phone numbers look like they come from your area or family’s area. Just because it’s the same area code, it isn’t. Scammers use sophisticated technology to cover their real numbers to look local to you.
- When scammers call DO NOT volunteer information when they fish for facts to use against you. I know it will be hard to do, but if the caller says, “It’s me, Grandpa!” DO NOT answer back with your grandchild’s name. If you do, the chances are you are now in their web.
- If the caller says they are the police, call the police department the caller claims to be from. You will be able to identify the caller’s ID and information given to you.
- Your instincts will tell you if you should investigate it further. If it sounds “off” and not right, it probably is.
- Above all, do not send money, wiring money, or provide account numbers from cash-loaded cards. Scammers ask for money wired or in cards because it’s very hard to trace and you won’t get that money back once it’s in their hands.
- Do not rush to help as much as you want to. Let the situation cool off and follow up with family members. As dire as the situation is, if it’s real it can wait. Scammers want you to rush in making decisions and in their case, wrong decisions.
To show that Grandparent Scams on the rise, below is a recent news video of a 73-year woman on Long Island who kept her cool head, calling local police so they can apprehend the scam artist. video of a 73-year woman on Long Island who kept her cool head, calling local police so they can apprehend the scam artist.
More Resources from AARP
- You can report any fraud targeting older people to the FTC online or at 877-382-4357. You might also want to notify your state’s attorney general and consumer protection office.
- If you sent money to a suspected scammer via Western Union, call the company’s fraud hotline (800-448-1492) as soon as possible. Ditto if you used MoneyGram (800-926-9400). If the transfer has not yet been paid, Western Union or MoneyGram may be able to stop the transaction and refund your money.