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Beware of Grandparents Scam…Again

Summer is prime time for scammers to come knocking at your front door – from home repair hucksters to magazine-selling malefactors.Analog telephone chord

But being the height of travel season, the Better Business Bureau warns, it’s also ripe for the “Family Emergency Scam” – also known as the “Grandparent Scam,” named for its primary targets … and victims.

In this ruse, scammers posing as family members – typically grandchildren –  telephone you claiming to have been arrested or hurt while traveling abroad. I need cash fast! they tell you. And please don’t tell my parents. The usual plea is to wire transfer the money.

Related: Is It Elder Financial Fraud? 5 Signs It May Be “Yes”

Your name and phone number has probably been gleaned from online telephone directories or purchased lists that sometimes indicate subscribers’ ages. Fraudsters try to convince you they are indeed your grandchild by citing names and family details pooled from social networking websites, genealogy sites that provide public family trees, obituaries for deceased spouses that include grandchildren’s names and other sources.

Since 2010, the Federal Trade Commission has received more than 40,000 complaints about such scams, with money losses in the tens of millions. Likely, though, most cases go unreported. Although grandparents are usually targeted, it can be other family members or even friends of the person supposedly in need of help.

So if you get one of these calls, don’t fall for it. One approach is just to hang up. But if you’re concerned it might be real, follow these steps:

Photo: Alan Alfaro/Flickr


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