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Grandparent Scams

Information about Grandparent Scams and how to prevent them.

How It Works

You get a call: “Grandma, I need money for bail.” Or money for a medical bill. Or some other kind of trouble – like a car accident. The caller says it’s urgent — and tells you to keep it a secret.

But is the caller who you think it is? Scammers are good at pretending to be someone they’re not. They will play on your emotions and your concern for your grandchild. They will come up with reasons their voice sounds different or funny – like crying or a broken nose. They can be convincing: sometimes using information from social networking sites, or hacking into your loved one’s email account, to make it seem more real. And they’ll pressure you to send money before you have time to think.

Scammers often will ask you to send cash through FedX, or UPS or the postal service.

How to Prevent It

  • Do not send money. Check it out. Look up your grandchild's phone number yourself, or call another family member.
  • Call your grandchild and use the phone number you know is right.
  • If you sent cash, report it immediately to the postal service or whatever company you used. If you act quickly you may be able to stop delivery by giving the tracking number to the delivery company.

If you lost money you should act immediately:

  • If you sent cash, report it immediately to the postal service or whatever company you used. If you act quickly you may be able to stop delivery by giving the tracking number to the delivery company.
  • Call the gift card or debit card company immediately. The contact number is on the back of the card. If reported immediately, you may be able to stop the transfer of funds, otherwise it may not be possible to stop the funds from being withdrawn. It is also important to alert the card company of fraud.
  • If you gave personal information to the scammer you may be subject to identity theft. Learn what to do.

Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission: Report Now