Blog Post

Blog Post Protect Your Grandparents From Common Scams

A grandparent scam occurs when a fraudster targets an older individual stating that their grandchild is in trouble and demands wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency to save their family.
9/27/2022
  • Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Grandparents Scam Blog

This month across the country we recognized Grandparents Day, a time to celebrate the bonds with grandchildren.  This year’s Grandparents Day theme was to #DoSomethingGrand like take a walk together, send a video note, handwrite a letter, or simply convey how much your elders mean to you.  Showing you care can come through action, items, and sharing information. 

Passing on details to protect your grandparents is a simple way to show your appreciation this month.  You may consider starting a conversation about trending grandparent scams to ensure your family stays safe. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2021 there were over 92,000 older victims of fraud resulting in $1.7 billion in losses. 

A grandparent scam occurs when a fraudster targets an older individual stating that their grandchild is in trouble and demands wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency to save their family.  These threatening calls are often made at odd hours, when potential victims are less likely to think rationally and act more impulsively.

In recognition of Grandparents Day, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation gathered the following red flags of potential scam calls to share with your loved ones:

  • International trouble phone call: An unknown caller phones pretending to represent your grandchild who is in distress in a foreign country. These con artists often claim that a large amount of money will resolve the issue, or that the grandchild is desperate for money not wanting to consult with their parents. Hang up, it’s a scam. 
  • Medical emergency phone call: The voice on the other end of the line pretends to be a doctor or witness to an accident where your grandchild was severely injured.  The fraudster demands a large wire transfer to initiate care or pay for medical bills. Hang up, it’s a scam. 
  • Legal or arrest phone call: Someone calls impersonating an attorney or police officer stating that your grandchild was arrested and facing serious charges.  The scammer attempts to swindle money for bail or to dismiss the case.  Hang up, it’s a scam. 

As always, whenever confronted with an unknown caller, do not provide any personal information, and take your time to evaluate the situation.  If you believe that the call may be real, disconnect and reach out to the phone number of the supposed caller, or their parents, for more information.

Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid scam phone calls:

  • Limit personal information shared on social media. That includes family member’s names and photos, to reduce the amount of details a scammer can find about you online.
  • Update privacy settings on social media accounts. Only share posts with friends and family you know in real life.
  • Do not answer calls from unknown phone numbers.  Allow these to go to voicemail, and return any calls only using verified contact information.
  • Take advantage of your mobile phone’s call blocking and filtering applications.  Contact your provider if you are not sure what options are available.
  • Take your time and think. Remember that a caller threatening or aggressively demanding payment through unconventional or difficult to trace methods is usually a scam.

If you or someone you love has fallen victim to a grandparent scam, file a report with local law enforcement.  In addition, report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov or by calling 202-326-222.  You may also file a complaint on unwanted calls and spoofing to the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322.  For more information on grandparent scams visit the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s website.

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation 

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation protects and empowers consumers through advocacy and education, and ensures a fair playing field for the Massachusetts businesses its agencies regulate.

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