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What is a Grandparent Scam?

Grandparent scams are when scammers contact you, pretending to be your grandchild or their representative (e.g., a friend, law enforcement). Scammers will then claim that they are in trouble and need money to get out of a difficult situation, such as being arrested or stranded in a foreign country. They will pressure you into responding quickly and tell you to keep the emergency a secret to prevent you from checking in with other family members about the situation.

Other signs of the grandparent scam include scammers asking you to send money using methods that are difficult to trace, such as gift cards, wire transfers, and cryptocurrency, and the caller sounding different than your grandchild. Grandparent scammers try their best to be believable, so they may call from a number that looks like your grandchilds’ phone number and find information about your family online to make a more believable story.

If you receive a call from any family member reporting to be in distress, remember to slow down and check the situation with others before sending any money or personal information.

How can you protect yourself from Grandparent Scams?
1

Be cautious of unexpected calls and text messages, especially if they ask for money

2

Take your time to check the caller’s identity

3

Ask personal questions that only your grandchild would know, such as experiences you’ve had with them

4

Directly contacting your grandchild, their parents, or other trusted family or friends to check the situation

5

Never send money or give financial information to anyone you do not know or trust, or in situations that seem suspicious

Are you a victim of a Grandparent Scam?

If you believe you have been a victim of a grandparent scam:

  1. Contact your bank or credit card company and ask to stop any payments made to the scammers,
  2. Change any passwords or account information that may have been stolen in the scam, 
  3. Talk about the scam to friends and family and seek support from them as needed, 
  4. Report the scam to local authorities and organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.
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