“Hey Grandma, do you know who this is?”
And as simple as that, the thief gets the grandkid’s name and uses it to trick the unsuspecting grandparent into wiring them thousands of dollars.
It’s known as the grandparent scam and it’s one of the cruelest cons you should be aware of and ready for.
In the past year alone, elderly Americans have lost $42 million to this scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission. But the numbers might be even higher as the thieves often ask their victims to “not tell their mom and dad,” effectively snuffing out any investigations or timely actions.
Why is this scam so potent?
It draws on the grandparents’ love and parental and protective instincts, while simultaneously hurrying them to ignore warning signs and inconsistencies. When your kid’s in trouble, you typically don’t take a moment to assess the situation rationally.
You act – and that’s what they’re counting on.
What is the best defense against this cowardly and disgusting con?
4 SIMPLE TIPS TO HELP GRANDPARENTS AVOID FALLING VICTIM TO THE GRANDPARENT SCAM:
- First and foremost, the grandparent must be made aware of this scam. Telling them it’s out there, and that they should be on the lookout for such a trick, is a huge step in the right direction.
- Next, they must practice maintaining a consistent (but healthy) level of skepticism over the phone! This means not disclosing any information over the phone. As mentioned above, some learn and use the information, like names, real-time to gain trust and credibility.
- Third, they should know to ask callers a couple of personal questions that only real family and trusted parties would know. Even the best con-artists will likely only know what’s already in the public records, like names and addresses and the like, so dig deeper. Note, do not confirm their answers for them.
- Finally, the grandparent should try and corroborate the caller’s story. Call the kid’s parents, regardless of what the caller claims the parents will do. They should even try to call the grandkids themselves if that is an option.
The takeaway is that these crooks prey on kindness and love. It is possible to avoid being a fraud victim. You nor your loved one should be part of the annual fraud victim statistic — just be attentive, a little skeptical, and take steps to ensure all your love and parental support is going to the right place and person!
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