For the Love of Grandchildren: The Grandparent Scam
From the AARP Fraud Watch Network
Here’s how it works
• The Grandparent Scam starts with a call, text, email or message on social media claiming to be your grandchild or someone reaching out on behalf of your grandchild who needs your help urgently.
• They will say that your grandchild was in an accident or may be in the hospital — they may even tell you that your grandchild hurt someone and is now in jail.
• They’ll ask you to send money right away — often through a money transfer or by purchasing gift cards and sharing the activation information on the back of the cards.
What You Should Know
• Criminals have relied on this scam for many years, refreshing the details over time, in hopes a grandparent’s love and concern will drive them to act quickly.
• The contact may come late at night — scammers hope their targets will be more likely to believe their story if they aren’t fully awake.
• The criminal may have scoured the target’s social media profile to arm themselves with family information that may lend credence to their ploy.
• The scammers will typically offer just enough detail to make the story seem convincing — they may even give the phone to another scammer who will claim to be a doctor, police officer or lawyer.
What You Should Do
• Disengage immediately. Call your grandchild or other family members to confirm they are safe.
• Know that sharing activation information off gift cards is not a legitimate form of payment – anytime this request comes your way, disengage.
• Make sure social media privacy settings are set so that only friends and family can see your posts and photos.
• If you’ve experienced a phone scam or other fraud, file a police report. This could help with possible restitution opportunities.
• To talk your experience through with a trained fraud specialist, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360, free of cost and open to everyone.
AARP Fraud Watch Network