How To Avoid The "Grandparent Scam"

Man with phone

You’ve heard it before.

A local elderly woman is called up by her “grandson,” and panicked, he pleads with her to quickly wire money because he’s stranded and in trouble. She rushes to wire the money – concerned for her grandson’s safety, only to find out later that person on the other end of the phone was scamming her all along.

These scams are common. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that consumers reported more than $42 million in losses between 2012 and 2014 due to scams involving the impersonation of family members and friends. The situation described above is more commonly known as the “grandparent scam” and typically targets the elderly.

May is “Older Americans Month” and in honor of our elderly friends and family, we’re focusing on the “grandparent scam” and how to avoid falling victim.

Here are a few tips from the American Bankers Association to help combat the grandparent scam:

  • Confirm the caller. Fraudsters are using social networking sites to gain the personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes. Verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult a trusted family member before acting on any request.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fraudsters want to execute their crimes quickly. In this type of scam, they count on fear and your concern for your loved one to make you act before you think. The more questions you ask the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam if they suspect you’re on to them.
  • Never give personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Never rush into a financial decision and trust your instincts. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. Feel free to say no and get more information before you send money to someone.

Scammers aren’t afraid to prey on the goodwill of a grandparent – especially one who would do anything to help their grandchild. Between social media and internet searches, fraudsters can gather enough information to put together a convincing story. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, do your best to follow the steps above before sending any money.

That fake “grandson” doesn’t need your money anyway.

For more information on elder financial abuse visit

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