Don't Fall Victim to the Grandparent Scam
This all-too-common scam targets older Americans
May is Older Americans Month, and Nevada State Bank reminds seniors and their families that older people are often targeted for fraud. In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 400,000 complaints from consumers reporting that they’d been exposed to impersonation scams. The “grandparent scam” is one type that deliberately targets older Americans.
To commit this crime, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and in need of money immediately. The scammer might say he’s stranded or has been mugged, and may even call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. He claims he needs money right away to repair a broken-down car, post bail money, or buy a plane ticket home. The targeted person is asked to wire money immediately. After the money is sent, the victim finds out that it wasn’t their grandchild they were helping—it was a criminal.
Make sure the older people in your family are aware of this all-too-common scam, so they can be better prepared in case they are targeted. The time to think rationally about it is before the urgent late-night call saying, “Grandma, I’m in trouble and I need your help.”
Confirm the caller. Fraudsters often use social networking sites to gain personal information about friends and relatives. These facts make their story seem believable, so they can 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 onto 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. Take some time to think over the situation logically rather than being overwhelmed by the scammer’s emotional pleas. Feel free to ask for more time to decide what to do. Then hang up, get more information, or discuss the situation with a trusted friend or family member.
Trust your instincts. Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC