April 4, 2017
The phone rings in the middle of the night and startles you. The voice says, “Grandma, I’m away on spring break and I’m in trouble. Can you wire money?” You are frozen in your tracks with alarm. Stop and ask yourself whether this is really your grandchild or if it may be someone running a “grandparent scam.”
Grandparents, as well as the entire family, should be aware of this potential problem. There are sophisticated scammers out there who prey on a senior’s love and concern for their grandchildren. They even have plausible answers to questions put to them. One such scammer told his intended victim that he didn’t sound like his grandson because he was involved in a fight before being arrested and his nose was broken.
A scammer may try to convince a grandparent to “not tell Mom and Dad because it will upset them.” He or she will convey a sense of urgency to send the money right away.
Here are a few suggestions to make sure that a grandchild is OK and to avoid being the victim of a scam:
- -Ask questions that would be difficult for a stranger to answer correctly. Something personal such as the name of a pet or a family member’s favorite hobby is a good choice.
- -Immediately call the grandchild or his or her parents to see if there is an emergency.
- -Ask for the caller’s return number and note the number on your caller ID.
- -If there’s been a scam, report it right away. The wire transfer company can return the money if it has not been picked up yet.
Remember, a scammer intends to upset Grandma or Grandpa; presence of mind can defeat fraudulent scams.