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The Grandparent Scam

A Growing Scam on Older Americans

The Grandparent Scam

In light of Older Americans Month it is important to understand and be aware about the “Grandparent Scam”. The term “grandparent scam”, is a form of financial abuse that deliberately targets older Americans. Each and every year, thousands of seniors fall to be victims of these impersonation scams. Between 2012 and 2014 according to the Federal Trade Commission, there was a reported $42 million in losses by consumers from types of scams that involved a con artist impersonating family members, loved ones, and friends. 

When these scammers commit the crime, they focus on targeting these people asking for financial assistance immediately claiming to be a family member or friend in serious trouble. They will tell the victim that they are in a dangerous situation saying that they are stranded, have been mugged, or have been arrested and need their immediate help. The con artists will almost always have a sense of urgency to the call or email. They will also call at odd hours of the night or early morning when the victim is probably not thinking as clearly. Another scenario the con artist uses is by impersonating an arresting police officer, the hospital, a lawyer or some other person that will make the situation sound like it needs immediate attention. Once the money is wired, the victim will then find out it wasn’t their grandchild, child, or a friend that they were helping, it was actually a criminal.

These criminals do this on a daily basis and are good at what they do. They perform extensive research by using social media pages, internet stories, and other sources of information in order to fabricate their stories and make them more believable. They will not stop at anything and if they do not get their money from one victim, they will move on to another and the cycle will continue. It is important to trust your gut, be careful, and confirm as best as possible who the person is on the other end of the phone when dealing with your money.

The ABA (American Bankers Association) Foundation offers these helpful tips in recognition of May as Older Americans Month to recognize a grandparent scam:

  • Confirm the caller: These criminals are using specific information by going onto social media websites and internet sources of family and friends to carry out these crimes. A helpful tip is to verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult another family member before acting on anything.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Never stop asking questions. This is extremely important when dealing with this situation because these criminals want to execute the crime as quickly as possible. The more that they think you are suspecting them, the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam. They rely on fear and the victims concern for their loved ones to act quickly before the victim can think the situation through.
  • Never give personal information to anyone over the phone or email: The only time you should give personal information over the phone or through email is if the person is guaranteed to be trusted, and you initiated the call.
  • Never rush into a financial decision and trust your instincts: Don’t fall to be a victim of one of these crimes. It is always ok to get more information when dealing with your money before you send it to the wrong person. If something seems suspicious, it just might be.

The importance of bankers asking a lot of questions, looking over a customer’s normal banking activity, and being able to recognize any suspicious activity, can help prevent these situations with our customers. We want to protect our customers as much as we can, and by doing so we have to be aware of these scammers if the situation were to arise.  We encourage you to notify us immediately if you feel you have been scammed.