One of the fastest-growing scams these days is what is known as the Grandparent Scam.
In a typical Grandparent Scam, a fraudster contacts a Senior posing as a grandchild who is in some sort of trouble. The trouble could be that they’ve been arrested and need bail money, or they are travelling and have been robbed, or that they’ve had some sort of medical emergency. Sometimes, the caller claims to be a lawyer, doctor or police officer calling on the grandchild’s behalf. Of course, you love your grandchildren and your first instinct would be to help them, any way that you can. Unfortunately, that’s what the scammers are counting on.
Here are ways to protect yourself from this type of scam:
- The criminal will often start the phone call by saying “Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?” The grandparent may say a name of a grandchild. Then, the fraudster will use it to gain credibility. If someone calls and asks you, “Do you know who this is?” say no and have them tell you.
- If the caller uses a grandparent name that you don’t use – for example they say “Grandma” but you go by “Nana”, hang up the phone immediately. Unfortunately, scammers may know your grandchild’s name and what they call you, so be cautious even if they know these details.
- Be skeptical of any urgent request for money. If you are being pressured to act quickly, it’s most likely a scam.
- Ask the caller for some personal information that only your grandchild would know, like the name of a childhood pet, or where their parent works. A grandchild should be able to answer these questions, but an imposter probably can’t.
- Fraudsters may ask you to transfer the money with a wire transfer, e-transfer, or by purchasing gift cards. Always be suspicious of anyone asking you to transfer money urgently by these methods. And be even more concerned if they offer to have someone come to your home to pick up the funds. If they ask for your address, hang up the phone. Your grandchild would know where you live.
- Usually fraudsters will ask the Grandparent to keep the matter secret and not tell anyone. They may claim that they don’t want their parents to find out about the trouble they’re in. This is a major red flag for fraud. To verify the details before sending any funds, contact the grandchild (or parent of the grandchild) the scam artist is claiming to be.
- Thieves will often call late at night to create confusion and disorient the grandparent. They may call multiple times over a short period of time to create a false sense of urgency. If you hang up on them, they may call back several times. Don’t be fooled and trust your instinct.
If you’re a Grandparent, or have Grandparents in your life, make sure they know how to protect themselves from this type of fraud. If you think you’ve been the victim of a Grandparent Scam, report it to the police immediately. Reach out to friends or family or speak with someone at your Kindred branch or at our Member Contact Centre (1.888.672.6728) for support.