Avoid These Scams This Grandparents Day

September 09, 2016

With Grandparents Day being recognized on Sunday, September 11th, Better Business Bureau serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties is warning the local community of senior scams targeted to get personal information:

The Grandparent Scam
A scammer calls in the middle of the night pretending to be your grandchild or younger family member who is stuck in jail in a foreign country and needs to be wired money as soon as possible. They ask that you do not contact any other family members to verify the story.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Reach out to parents or other relatives.
  • Look at the country or area code of the phone number calling you.
  • Contact the OCS (Overseas Citizen’s Services) to verify legitimacy of the claim.
  • File a complaint with the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).
  • Remember, once you wire cash, it is nearly impossible to trace and receive back in case of a scam.


Medicare Scam
Any citizen over the age of 65 qualifies for Medicare, so scammers rarely need to research which private health company an elder belongs to in order to perform this scam. In this case, senior citizens may receive calls from someone claiming to represent Medicare in order to get the potential victim to give their personal information, including social security, bank account and credit card numbers.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Never give financial information over the phone or to a door-to-door salesman or telemarketer.
  • Contact Medicare directly.


IRS Scam
Telephone scam artists call and pretend to be with the IRS. They demand money or may say you have a refund due. They alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they leave an urgent callback request.

How to avoid this scam:

  • If the IRS needs to communicate with you, they will contact you through mail.
  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS. The IRS workers can help you with any payment issues.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant on their website; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.”


Mail & Email Scams
Unfortunately, seniors are some of the most targeted by scammers looking to make a buck off of mail and email scams.  A few of the most common mail scams include foreign lottery letters, charity solicitations and letters pertaining to social security.  A few of the most popular scam emails that circulate include notifications of inheritance, prize winnings, credit & debit card account issues and more.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Throw away any mail pieces that ask you to send money or personal information.
  • Before sending a donation to charity, verify the legitimacy of their address and contact information.
  • Never open emails from a sender you don’t know and refrain from clicking on the links in an email as these may contain malware.


If you or your loved one have any questions regarding a potential scam, give us a call at (858) 496-2131. For consumer tips and other news alerts, check the BBB News Blog at bbb.org.