Feds investigate ‘grandparent scam’
History has repeated itself, as it often does with scams against seniors.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just emailed me this news release. It warns seniors that scammers are faking emergencies to rip them off. According to the release, the bad guys are making phishing attempts — unsolicited calls, texts, emails or social media posts — designed to appear as if they are coming from the seniors’ loved ones, typically their grandchildren. The messages claim the grandchild’s in some sort of trouble, and they need money to get out of it.
Consumer advocates like me nickname this one the grandparents scam. It’s the same one I wrote about in this #WiseWarning blog in January — the same one two Mississippi attorneys general asked me to investigate over a span of two decades.
Which is to say, it’s time seniors stopped falling for this one — and it’s time we as caregivers pay closer attention to who’s contacting our elders.
As I have implored for two decades, the FTC said if you or one of your elderly family members or friends receives an unsolicited contact like this:
- Check it out before you act. Look up that friend or family’s phone number yourself. Call them or another family member to see what’s happening, even if the person who contacted you told you not to do that.
- Don’t pay. Don’t wire money, send a check, overnight a money order or pay with a gift card or cash reload card. Anyone who demands payment in these ways is always a scammer. These payment methods are like giving cash — and nearly untraceable, unless you act almost immediately.
- If you sent money to a family emergency scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (wire transfer service, bank, gift card company, or cash reload card company) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible.
- Report the fraud immediately to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
Let’s work together to remember this one — since many of our seniors cannot.
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