As our population ages, so does the rate of grandparent scams. This type of scam preys on the elderly and their families, often resulting in significant financial losses. Unfortunately, it can be hard to recognize a grandparent scam until it is too late. In this blog, we will discuss how to identify and avoid grandparent scams, as well as what steps to take if you or someone you know has been affected by one.
The Telltale Signs of a Grandparent Scam
Grandparent scams are becoming increasingly common, with scammers targeting unsuspecting grandparents for their hard-earned money. Scammers often prey on the elderly’s good nature and willingness to help their family members in need. If you are a grandparent, it’s important to be aware of the telltale signs of a grandparent scam.
- A call from someone claiming to be a family member in distress. The “family member” may claim to be in jail, stranded abroad, or in an emergency and will ask you to send money. The scammer may even provide detailed stories of their plight, making the story sound more plausible. It is important to remember that no legitimate family member would ever ask you to send them money without first verifying their identity.
- A call from someone claiming to be a lawyer or other authority figure representing your family member. The caller may request you to pay a “bail bond” or “attorney fees” in order for the “family member” to be released. This type of request should always be treated with suspicion as authorities rarely conduct business over the phone.
- Watch out for requests for your personal information. A scammer may ask for your address, Social Security number, bank account number or credit card details. These are all signs of a potential scam and you should never give out any of your personal information to someone over the phone.
What to do if you Suspect a Scam
If you believe you may be the target of a grandparent scam, take the following steps:
Resist the urge to act immediately
Grandparent scammers will often try to create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly. Don’t do it. Instead, take the time to research the situation and verify information independently.
Confirm the story
Ask the person in question specific questions that only your grandchild would know. You can also attempt to contact your grandchild directly, or their parent, to confirm their story.
Do not give out personal information
Never give out any personal or financial information, including your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or passwords.
Do not send money
If someone is asking for money, do not send it. Instead, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for assistance.
Report the incident
If you think you have been scammed, report the incident to your local police department and the FTC as soon as possible.
How to Avoid Being a Victim of a Grandparent Scam
Grandparent scams are on the rise, with elderly victims losing millions of dollars each year. While it is impossible to guarantee that you won’t be scammed, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
- Hang up if you feel pressured or uncomfortable. Never agree to send money if you are feeling unsure.
- Verify the identity of the caller. Ask for the name of the grandchild and questions only he or she would know the answer to. If the caller is unable to answer these questions, be wary.
- Consider purchasing an alarm system or motion-activated camera to monitor your home while you’re away. This can help deter potential scammers from targeting you.
- Talk to your family about grandparent scams and ways they can protect themselves. Have them review this article, and make sure they understand the warning signs and how to avoid becoming a victim.
- Consider investing in an all-in-one digital security solution. RealCall app is capable of smartly blocking spam calls and text messages behind your smartphone based on a database.
By following these steps, you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a grandparent scam and ensure the safety of your family members. Stay vigilant and always question any requests for money from someone you don’t know or don’t trust.
What to Do If You Have Been Scammed
If you’ve been the victim of a grandparent scam, the first thing you should do is report it to the police. Depending on the amount of money involved, they may open a formal investigation. You can also reach out to your bank or credit card company to report the fraud and ask to have any transactions reversed.
If you wired money as part of the scam, you’ll need to contact the bank or money transfer service you used and fill out a complaint form. They may be able to track where the money went and offer reimbursement, although this is unlikely.
You may also want to contact your local consumer protection agency or attorney general’s office. They can provide more information about how to file a complaint against those responsible for the scam.
In addition, consider sharing your experience with friends, family, and other people in your community so that they can be aware of this type of scam. Being aware and cautious can help protect them from becoming victims as well. Finally, if you feel overwhelmed or traumatized by what has happened, seek out professional counseling or therapy.