It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’ve already sent a card to your grandmother, grandfather, or the older adult in your life. But if you haven’t told them lately that you love them, pick up the phone and call, too. While you’re catching up, remind them that you’ll never pressure them to wire you money or buy you gift cards — but a scammer might.
Scammers use fake family emergencies to target older adults. They call pretending to be a grandkid in trouble, or a lawyer or police officer on the scene. They ask for money, but once the grandparent finds out there was no emergency, the scammer’s gone — and so is their money. You may not get these scam calls, but chances are you know someone who will get one — if they haven’t already. Sharing is caring.
Here’s what you might say to help an older adult in your life spot a scam:
- “I’ll never call and ask you to send money for an emergency. That’s a scam. Hang up!” No matter who a caller claims to be, resist the urge to send money immediately. If they ask you to pay in ways that are hard to trace — by wiring money, sending a money order, or paying with gift cards, reloadable cards, or cryptocurrency — that’s a scam.
- “If someone pressures you to secretly send money to get me (or someone you know) out of trouble, that’s a scam. Slow down and check it out.” Scammers don’t want you talking to anyone else and realizing it’s a scam. Don’t keep it quiet, especially if you can’t reach the person who’s supposed to be in trouble. Call someone else you trust to help figure out whether there’s really an emergency.
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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I created a written scenario that I left by my parents phone with different things to say to the caller. If it is a "grandchild", they ask them to verify what kind of car they got for their 16th birthday. Of course, if its the wrong answer, they know its a lie. I also left a whistle that they can blow in the phone. Caller id helped them too.
Please send me information about filing for identity thief for taxes students loan welfare sos sec numbers birth records passports real documents from your birth country? People stealing money from your birth country, thinking it is you for 53 years in America?
In reply to Please send me information… by Charlene Briggs
I got a “ Hi grandma” call last week. I asked “who is this?” And he said “it’s your grandson “ then he hung up.
Silly, but someone might fall for it.
I got one of these calls once. I asked how he could be so stupid to have ended up in jail, and asked if it was the same charge as last time (there had never been an incident). I also asked if it had been that raid I heard about at school. The caller started “crying” and pleading and said yes. I had so much fun on the call, knowing my 5 yr old grandson had never been jailed and never had his pre-k class raided. The caller hung up on me. I then called the local sheriff non emergency who told me “these things happen all the time, there’s nothing we can do about it. Wouldn’t even bother to take the number they had called from!
Dear ftc.gov administrator, You always provide useful tips and best practices.