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When it comes to scammers, nothing is sacred — including the bond between grandparent and grandchild. Lately, grandparent scammers have gotten bolder: they might even come to your door to collect money, supposedly for your grandchild in distress.

These kinds of scams still start with a call from someone pretending to be your grandchild. They might speak softly or make an excuse for why they sound different. They’ll say they’re in trouble, need bail, or need money for some reason. The “grandkid” will also beg you to keep this a secret — maybe they’re “under a gag order,” or they don’t want their parents to know. Sometimes, they might put another scammer on the line who pretends to be a lawyer needing money to represent the grandchild in court.

But, instead of asking you to buy gift cards or wire money (both signs of a scam), the scammer tells you someone will come to your door to pick up cash. Once you hand it over, your money is gone. But you might get more calls to send money by wire transfer or through the mail.

To avoid these scams and protect your personal information:

  • Take a breath and resist the pressure to pay. Get off the phone and call or text the person who (supposedly) called. If you can’t reach them, check with a family member to get the real story. Even though the scammer said not to.
  • Don’t give your address, personal information, or cash to anyone who contacts you. And anyone who asks you to pay by gift card or money transfer is a scammer. Always.
  • Check your social media privacy settings and limit what you share publicly. Even if your settings are on private, be careful about what personal identifiers you put out on social media.

If you lost money to this kind of scam, it was a crime, so file a report with local law enforcement. And if you get any kind of scam call, report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Telephone scammer calling a grandparent posing as a grandchild with play button indicating video

10 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Bebopbob …
April 13, 2021
Wow ! So sad.
KY Lady
April 13, 2021
Have a family password and give it to the kids and grandkids. If you get one of these calls for "help," ask the caller for the family password. Then see how fast they hang up.
Sam
April 13, 2021

In reply to by KY Lady

Good advice! Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated, even some pros get conned. Always suspect any unsolicited calls, texts, or other messages. Like the article states, never give any personal or banking info to any unsolicited contacts.
HOPE
April 13, 2021
Your effort to fight consumer fraud is very much appreciated. After hackers used my social security number, and god knows what else they got from my internet devices; reporting all of these breaches to authorities,federal and local, I have never heard what happened - as a result of my notification - to me and the rest of these crime victims. I still getting threading phone calls which I no longer care to report. The situation is too sad to express.
Shoeman
April 13, 2021
I actually got a call from someone who was supposedly my grand son. The problem they didn't realize was that I don't have a grandson. So, I played along for about 20 minutes. I was asking all sorts of questions, to which they lied. As they were getting really exasperated I finally told them that they were scammers and I was going to report them. Click...
Whisker's Mom
April 14, 2021
Brilliant!
Grandma Knows
April 26, 2021
This happened to me a couple months ago. I knew immediately what it was because I had heard about this scam AND my grandsons live with me and were sleeping safely in their beds. I played along for a bit, not giving any info and when the "attorney" called who was representing my so called jailed grandson, and who was getting very stern with me about helping my loved one, I told them the jig was up ... click.