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Security & privacy

Crooks are showing up at seniors’ doors – Warn your loved ones about this new scam

Times have been tough for many lately. But scammers don’t care and will still stop at nothing to rip you off. As if being vigilant for criminals online isn’t enough, they could now target your grandparents in person in a new brazen scam.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning that “grandparent scammers” are being reported across the U.S. Taking advantage of seniors not being tech-savvy, criminals are shamelessly scamming them out of their cash. Tap or click here to set up a security camera in under 30 seconds (with stuff you already own).

This is such a nasty scheme that we all need to spread the word to friends and family, so they know what to watch for. Keep reading for all the details on this devious scam and how to avoid it.

Here’s the backstory

The scheme begins with a call to a senior and the scammer pretending to be their grandchild. Often speaking in a soft voice, they claim to need money for bail, traffic tickets or other expenses. Instead of accepting a wire transfer or cash deposit, the scammer will insist that someone else will come to collect the money.

The criminals will then go to the grandparent’s house to collect the cash. Once it has been handed over, the money will be gone forever and victims have no way of getting it back.

To make matters worse, the criminals might repeatedly target the same victims. “The “grandkid” will also beg you to keep this a secret. Claiming things like they’re under a gag order or they don’t want their parents to know.

“Sometimes, they might put another scammer on the line who pretends to be a lawyer needing money to represent the grandchild in court,” said Emily Wu, attorney for the Federal Trade Commission.

What you can do about it

Seniors need to be made aware that these types of scams are becoming more prevalent. While we all need to be cautious about these schemes, seniors tend to be more vulnerable.

To avoid these scams and protect your personal information:

  • Take a breath and resist the pressure to pay. Get off the phone and call or text the person who (supposedly) called. If you can’t reach them, check with a family member to get the real story. Even though the scammer said not to.
  • Don’t give your address, personal information, or cash to anyone who contacts you. And anyone who asks you to pay by gift card or money transfer is a scammer. Always.
  • Check your social media privacy settings and limit what you share publicly. Even if your settings are private, be careful about what personal identifiers you put on social media.

If you lost money to this kind of scam, it was a crime, so file a report with local law enforcement. And if you get any kind of scam call, report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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