Grandparents are softies when it comes to their grandchildren, a fact that scammers take advantage of. As scammers get bolder, their tactics change. Being wise to their plans and methods will help you not to fall prey to their schemes and end up out of pocket. Here is everything you and your older loved ones need to know about identifying grandparent scams in 2021.
How To Recognize A Grandparent Scam?
Most grandparent scams follow a telltale imposter scam pattern. They start with a frantic call from someone who claims to be your grandchild. You might not recognize their voice, but they’ll make an excuse for sounding different, muffle their voice, or speak softly. That’s your first red flag.
Trouble That Is Urgent and Dramatic
The next step is to convince you they’re in some kind of trouble that they need money to get out of. They may throw in an accident, an arrest, or a robbery. To manipulate you even further, they may create greater urgency by claiming to be stuck overseas, hospitalized, or arrested.
Sworn To Secrecy
Your fake grandchild will beg you to keep it a secret. They’ll have a convincing reason why their parents can’t find out. They may say things like they have to go to court, and even put someone else on the line who pretends to be a lawyer, doctor, or police officer.
Suspicious Methods of Payment
Scammers may ask for payment in a few different ways. These methods of payment are untraceable and should trigger caution.
- Buy a gift card
- Wire money
- Send someone to your door to collect cash
The moment you’re presented with these payment options, know that things aren’t as they seem.
You’ve Received a Scam Call, Now What? Practical Dos and Don’ts
The most important thing is to stay calm and don’t get drawn in by the urgency. End the call and don’t give in to the pressure to pay. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to let your head be overruled by your heart. Follow these dos and don’ts to stay scam safe.
Do This to Avoid Falling Prey to Grandparent Scams
These are the things that you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from exploitation by this type of scam. Once you’ve established that the call wasn’t a legitimate family issue, you can get rid of the scammer.
- Do make sure your social media settings are on private and can only be seen by people you know. Be careful what you post. Keep in mind that scammers can skim through the information you share and use it to convince you they are a needy family member.
- Do ask obscure questions that someone outside your family won’t know the answer to, such as what their first pet was, and what they called it.
- Do hang up saying you’ll call right back. Don’t call on the number that rang you up but call or text the person who supposedly phoned you. Do it, even though it goes against what the scammer told you. If they don’t answer, try a different family member until you’re able to get to the bottom of the story.
- Do phone the authorities if someone contacts you, claiming to be a police officer.
- Do trust your gut. If something doesn’t sit well with you, don’t brush aside your feelings.
- Do be extra cautious of phone calls like this that come through at night. Scammers tend to take advantage of late nights as they hope to catch seniors when they are sleepy, and more likely to feel confused.
Don’t Do This to Prevent Falling Prey to Grandparent Scams
Scammers are clever, but if you know how they operate, you’ll be ready to stop them getting the best of you.
- Don’t ever give personal information over the phone. This includes your address and bank details.
- Don’t let yourself panic or be rushed into doing anything. No matter how bad the problem sounds, keep calm. Letting yourself get worked up plays straight into the scammers plans.
- Don’t allow the caller to make you panic and rush to fix the problem.
- Don’t offer information. Scammers are clever at letting you fill in the blanks for them when it comes to things like grandchildren’s names.
Don’t Let Love Make You Vulnerable To A Grandparent Scam
Grandparent scams can also happen via social media, email and text message. Scammers are constantly changing their tactics in the hope of catching innocent people unaware. Anti-Fraud News is committed to staying ahead of them, so that you can too.
Check our bi-monthly blog or follow us on social media for all the latest scams and frauds.