“Grandma, I need your help, please send money.”
“Grandpa, I am in the hospital and need you to wire me money.”
It is no surprise that when receiving a call from whom you believe to be your panicked grandchild, your stomach drops and you head for your wallet. Scammers are notorious for capitalizing on fear, and the coronavirus outbreak is no exception.
In a typical Grandparent Scam, a scammer will call or email the victim posing to be your grandchild in distress. They will explain that they are in trouble and need you to wire them funds that will be used for for their emergency such as hospital bills, lawyers’ fees, needing to leave a foreign country, or another fictitious expense. They will pull at your heart strings so they can trick you into sending money before you realize it’s a scam. In these days of Coronavirus, these lies can be particularly compelling but we all need to save our money for the real family emergencies.
So, how can we avoid grandparent scams or family emergency scams? Here’s what to keep in mind:
- -Resist the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
- -Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- -Don’t send cash, gift cards or money transfers – once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!
- -Protect yourself in the future. Ramp up the privacy settings on your social media accounts and safeguard your email by using anti-virus and anti-spy software. Also, be vigilant when opening attachment from emails that you are unsure of, they may contain software that enable criminals to access your computer remotely.
For more information, please visit Family Emergency Scams. And if you get a scam call, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.