The “Grandparent” Scam Can Target Anyone, Know the Red Flags

June 27, 2017

telephoneSummer is prime time for travel and being on the go. It can be easy to lose track of who is going where and when.  Scammers often use this time of year to scheme unsuspecting loved ones out of money and create panic. Dubbed the “grandparent scam, although scammers are not partial to any group they can scam, typically it will involve contact either pretending to be a family member or on behalf of a family member and claim an emergency or legal issue that needs immediate assistance in the form on money. Better Business Bureau of Central New England has tips to help you spot the red flags of this scam.

“Scammers use aggressive tactics to scare you into thinking a loved one is in danger. They expect you to follow through with any demand before verifying if it is a legitimate concern,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “This scam typically pops up during busy travel seasons, like summer or spring break, when there is increased likelihood of family bouncing around, making it easier to believe there could be an issue.” When people think their loved ones are in danger, they may be willing to do anything to help them out, scam artists are aware and will drag them scam out to line their own pockets.

If you receive a suspicious phone call or demand for money to help out a loved one, consider these tips before complying:

Stay calm. It can be easy to slide into a panic, but try to stay collected. They are counting on your emotional reaction. Resist the pressure to act quickly.

Ask questions. Try to get some verifiable information from the caller by asking questions only family would know the answer to. You can ask for middle names, schools they attended or the names of pets to gauge the legitimacy of the call.

Don’t wire money. Wiring money is not traceable and once you send it, you can’t get it back. Being asked to wire money is a red flag of many scam scenarios. Be doubly sure of any situation before you agree to wire money. Pre-paid debit cards are similar in that funds cannot be traced or refunded if sent to a scammer.

Communicate. Share travel plans. If you are not sure if a family member is travelling and you receive a suspicious call, follow up with others too.