CONSUMER ALERT: "Grandparent scam" becoming more common - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

CONSUMER ALERT: "Grandparent scam" becoming more common

Ind. (WPTA 21) -

Indiana's senior citizens are being warned to be on the lookout for the "grandparent scam".

The "grandparent scam" occurs when a senior receives a call, email or Facebook message from a scammer claiming to be their high-school or college-age grandchild stating they are in danger or have an emergency. They usually plead for money upwards to thousands of dollars. If the senior falls for the scam and sends something, the scammer, or fake grandchild, will call a second time claiming a new emergency that requires more money. 

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division said in 2016, 90 complaints of the scam in the first four months of the year. So far this year the division has received 130 complaints about the scam.

The scammers research to present themselves as the senior's real grandchild. The division said the scammer will know the names of other family members in order to sound more convincing. These details are often pulled from Facebook or online obituaries. In order for seniors to protect themselves, they should review their Facebook privacy settings to make sure information is only shared with their friends and family.

The division said if someone calls you claiming to be a family member and asks for money, always verify the request is legitimate before you send money. Hang up the phone and call the family member believed to be requesting this assistance. If you receive a message or email, follow the same steps and call the family member believed to have reached out to you.

Another method is to ask the scammer questions that would be easy for the real grandchild to answer but difficult for a scammer to guess. The division said even if the scammer claims the situation is an emergency, there is always time to verify the situation before sending any money. Ask specific questions such as “Where did you go to elementary school?” or “Where were we the last time we saw each other?”

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