Authorities are warning of new scams targeted at the elderly. The latest attempt to defraud seniors is a phone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild who is in trouble.
“Don’t tell anyone, but I need help. Send money.”
The plea to keep things quiet from other family members can make the scam successful, since the grandparent wants to protect their grandchild and help them out of a bind. They will request that you wire money somewhere because they have been arrested, been in an accident or are traveling and have been robbed.
Watch for the red flags:
- Callers requesting money
- Callers claiming to be out of the country
- Callers insisting you don’t tell anyone else
- Callers with unfamiliar voices
- Callers who are being vague and get personal details wrong
- Callers who just say “It’s me” or “It’s your favorite grandchild” and don’t give their name.
If you receive a call like this:
- Don't fill in the missing information. If they say "It's me" ask "Who?"
- Tell the person that you will call them back. If you don't have a grandchild's number, call a trusted family member for the information.
- Never give account numbers over the phone.
- Be very suspicious of calls requesting money to be wired somewhere.
Always ask for verification of the identity of the caller. If it is really your relative they won’t mind. And if it’s not, you can get off the call quickly and alert the police.
If you think you or your loved one may have been a victim:
- Contact your local police non-emergency number to report the scam.
- Contact your bank if you wired any money.
- Don't be embarrassed to tell a family member about what happened.
It's natural to want to help out a family member, but a real family member won't mind that you are trying to keep yourself safe, and the fake one will be out of luck.