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Beware of Grandparent Scams

Beware of Grandparent Scams

Scammers often target what they perceive to be vulnerable demographics of people. Unfortunately, this includes the youngest and oldest adults in our population. Scammers use fear or pressure to make their scams appear legitimate when they really aren’t.

With a largely uncertain environment because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, scams are on the rise against grandparents. If you feel like scammers are targeting you, here are things to look out for as well as tips to keep you safe from fraud.

The Scam: A friend or relative is in trouble

For this scam, someone contacts you via phone or email in distress. Most often, they claim to be a grandchild. They may also claim to be a friend or other relative having health issues or money troubles because of the pandemic. Their financial need is urgent, and you have to act right now!

How it works

Scammers will try to use fear and pressure as tactics to get you to act. You may already be fearful of the current pandemic, and scammers want you to act quickly out of fear. They will put pressure on you to act immediately. They may say they have medical bills, are out of work, or are in another country and need to get home.

Red flags to look for

How long has it been since you talked to this person? If it has been a long time since you spoke, that is an indicator that something isn’t right. If you spoke recently, but this new story doesn’t align with your previous conversations, it might be a scammer.

How does this person usually contact you? Is the email address or phone number familiar? Even if it is – do not provide any information to the person, because phone numbers and email addresses can easily be hacked or spoofed. 

Are you being pressured to act immediately? If so, take pause. Don’t allow anyone (even a friend or relative) make you feel like it’s now or never. Tell them you’ll think about it and to call back later. Then, reach out to someone you trust and explain what happened. See if they can help you verify the story.

What you should do

If the caller is not someone you know or if they do not sound like the friend or relative in question, hang up the phone. If you receive an email, try to contact them in person. Reach out and ask if they are OK. If you don’t know how to contact them, ask for help from another mutual friend or relative.

If the caller is persistent, try to verify who they are by asking questions that only the person they are claiming to be would know the answers to. Not birthday or family information, because those details are easily searchable online. Ask for details about the last time the two of you were together. Ask about a memory you shared that only the two of you would know about.

Remember, never provide your financial information over the phone or by email. Never send money to someone unless you are 100% certain who they are. If you think you might have been a victim of fraud, please give us a call. We are always glad to answer your questions and help guide you in making financial decisions.


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