Consumer Advocate: Be on the lookout for grandparent scams | Business | #scams | #elderlyscams
Multiple Grandparent Scams have been reported to the Better Business Bureau in the last three months. These scams target well-meaning seniors, tricking them into thinking that their grandchild is experiencing an emergency and in need of money to get to safety.
In December, a Fort Wayne man received a call from someone he believed to be his grandson, who claimed to have been arrested and in immediate need of funds for bail. The grandfather was able to avoid losing money with the help of a skilled bank teller, who caught the scam before the funds were transferred.
Last week, BBB serving Northern Indiana received two calls about this scam. One was from a 92-year-old woman who avoided being coaxed out of $6,500 when her “grandson” had an accident in Florida. Another call came from an elderly man’s son to report that his father had received a phone call claiming his “grandchild” was in danger and needed funds to ensure their safety.
Don’t fall — or let your loved ones fall — for the popular grandparent scam. Use BBB’s tips:
• Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is. Check out the story with other family and friends. Hang up or close the message and call your loved one directly. Don’t call the phone number provided by the caller or caller ID.
• Communicate. Loved ones should share travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country. Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.
• Know the red flags. Discuss this scam with older family members so they are aware of how the scam works. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as their grandchild or a so-called “officer of the court.” The caller explains that the grandchild has gotten into trouble and needs help. The “grandchild” pleads with the grandparents not to tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars immediately.
• Ask a personal question and don’t disclose too much information. If a grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild in distress, do not disclose any information before confirming the identity of the grandchild. If a caller says, “It’s me, Grandma!” don’t respond with a name, but instead let the caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that the grandchild would know such as their middle name or what gift they gave the grandchild for Christmas.
• Discuss with family members. Even though the scammer will plead with you to keep this a secret from the parents, discuss the situation with someone and chances are you will find that your grandchild is safe and secure at home.
• Don’t wire any money if there is any doubt about the call. If a person does wire money and later realizes it is a fraud, the police need to be alerted.
• Talk to your elderly parents about this scam. Don’t leave it to chance that they already know about it. This scam can wreak financial chaos on an unsuspecting person.
If you spot a scam, whether you’ve lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your story can help other consumers avoid similar scams.
Marjorie Stephens is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit www.bbb.org.