The next time you receive a frantic call from someone saying they are your grandchild and asking for money, make sure it’s actually your grandchild who's calling. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2016, impersonation scams ranked second as the most common consumer complaint, with more than 400,000 reported. The "grandparent scam," is a form of financial abuse that deliberately targets older Americans using impersonation tactics.
To commit this crime, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and in need of money immediately. The scammer might say he's stranded or has been mugged, and call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. Once the money is wired, the victim later finds out that it wasn't their grandchild they were helping, it was a criminal.
"The grandparent scam continues to be a major problem for seniors," said Joedy Eller, Chief Banking Officer. "Before you act on any request it's very important that you verify who you are speaking with by asking questions, calling them back on a known number or consulting with a trusted family member or friend before you fulfill any request."
LifeStore Bank offers older Americans these tips to help them prevent impersonation fraud:
- Confirm the caller. Fraudsters are using social networking sites to gain the personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes. Verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult a trusted family member before acting on any request.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. Fraudsters want to execute their crimes quickly. The more questions you ask the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam if they suspect you're on to them.
- Never give personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
- Never rush into a financial decision and trust your instincts. Don't be fooled – if something doesn't feel right, it may not be right. Feel free to say no and get more information before you send money to someone.