Criminals have been recently employing a tactic called the ‘Grandparent Scam’ which is used to target the elderly. Culprits pose as a relative, usually a grandchild, claiming to be in a financial emergency, like needing money for bail or for damages resulting from a car accident (this reason is becoming more common). Two scammers are involved in a Grandparent Scam; one posing as the family member in trouble and the other as a lawyer requesting funds to represent the relative in court.
However, instead of asking victims to purchase gift cards or wire money (both also signs of a scam), the scammer will come to the elderly person's home to pick up the cash in person.
Here’s how you can avoid and help others you know from becoming victims of the Grandparent Scam.
Resist the urge to act immediately and pay, no matter how dramatic or convincing the story may be.
Verify the caller’s identity by asking questions only the relative will know the answers to. Hang up and contact the person who’s (supposedly) in trouble. If you cannot reach them, check with another family member regardless of what the scammer tells you.
Don't give out your address or other personal information. Remember, instead of asking you to pay via gift cards or wire money, the scammer will ask to send someone to your home to pick up the cash.
Scammers may also ask you for other personal information like your Social Security Number, debit or credit card number and bank account information. Do not give out any of this information!
If you or somebody you know has fallen victim of a scam here’s what to do.
File a police report with your local police department.
Report scams to the FTC. Go to ftc.gov/complaint. Your report can help them shut the scammers down.
Let’s be careful and protect those we love by passing on this information. To learn more about the Grandparent Scam visit consumer.ftc.gov.