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As we celebrate grandparents this Sunday for Grandparents Day, Better Business Bureau is warning seniors to be on the lookout for a scheme commonly referred to as the “grandparent scam.”
Here’s how it works: The grandparent scammer preys on the grandparent’s desire to aid their grandchildren. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from someone who poses as their grandchild. A scammer, who has done research on the family, explains that he or she is in trouble and needs their help, usually saying they’re trapped in another country or involved in a serious accident or emergency. The “grandchild” pleads to the grandparents to not tell his or her parents and asks that they wire money to help immediately.
Unfortunately, senior citizens have always been frequent targets of scammers. They are often trusting and quickly willing to help a loved one. Thieves also know seniors can have Social Security income, pensions, investments, and plenty in savings. That makes them attractive targets for con artists. And when it comes to a grandchild in need of help, emotions can run high. Scammers can find ways to take advantage of that.
Recent reports from the Consumer Sentinel Network show a steady increase in impostor scam reports over the last several years; from just above 60,000 in 2010 to close to 83,000 in 2012. The grandparent scam is a common type of impostor scam targeted at senior citizens. If you are a senior or you know someone who is, it’s important to learn how grandparent scammers operate.
BBB offers these tips to avoid becoming victim to a grandparent scam:
For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.