(NC) Scam artists defraud millions of people each year by phone, by mail, online, and in person using many different tactics. But the grandparent scam is one of the most heartbreaking. Around for years, it typically occurs when a grandparent receives a call from a scammer pretending to be a family member in need of money immediately.
“I’ve been arrested in another country!” they say. “I need money wired quickly to pay my bail. Please, don’t tell my mom or dad because they’ll only get angry!”
The scammer often claims to have been in a car accident, to be having trouble returning from a foreign country, or have been arrested and need to be bailed out. The grandparent is asked to wire some money through a cash transfer company immediately. Victims often send the money without verifying the information until after the money is sent and it’s too late.
This is why it’s important to stay on guard. Use these tips from the Competition Bureau to stop yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim:
- Don’t reveal any personal information. It’s important to protect your identity at all times and only give out information when you know you can trust the person you’re talking to.
Never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t send money or pay fees to claim a prize or lottery winnings. Never wire money to someone whose identity you cannot confirm. Unless you’re sure that you know the person, never give your credit card or banking information over the phone.
Ask questions and be assertive. Scammers are counting on the fact that you’ll want to act quickly in an emergency. Be sure to assess the situation fully before making any decisions.
Investigate further. Try asking the caller questions that only your grandchild would know. Call the child’s parents to verify the story.
Get their information. Find out if there’s a phone number you can call them back at. If it’s truly a relative, they won’t hesitate to provide this.
Take precautions. Remind family members not to announce on social media that they’re going away. This could expose them and their families to fraudsters who can use this information. Ensure your family’s contact information is up to date so that you can easily get in touch with them to find out more.
Find more information online at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/fraud or by phone at 1-800-348-5358.