Don't Fall for the Grandparent's Scam

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It’s a scam that hurts both financially and emotionally. Someone calls an elderly individual pretending to be his or her grandchild. They say they’re overseas, that there’s been an emergency and they need money immediately. Far too often, the unsuspecting grandparent rushes to help by wiring the money and the scammer picks it up, never to be heard from again.

There are a few clues to watch out for if you think you’re being scammed:

You must wire the money. The scammer won’t accept money any other way, it must be wired so they can pick it up.

The person on the phone is rushed. The “grandchild” may sound like yours, but he/she can’t talk for long because there is an urgent situation they need help with.

You’re sworn to secrecy. The fake grandchild will beg you not to tell his/her parents. 

If you think you’re being scammed, resist the pressure to act quickly!

Ask questions. What’s your mom’s name? Favorite pet? Where were you born? A real grandchild would obviously be able to answer these questions, while a scammer will struggle.

Ask for a phone number. A real relative won’t be shy about providing contact information.

If you fell for the grandparent’s scam, act quickly! Call the wire transfer service to cancel the transaction. Unfortunately, once the money has been picked up, there’s no way to get it back. 

Consumers can sign up for the Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or by calling 800-646-2283. By joining the Fraud Watch Network, consumers will receive alerts and notifications about new scams as they emerge.

File a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at www.atg.wa.gov.