Safe Families

Mar 24, 2014 5:26 PM by PRESS RELEASE

BBB alerts Acadiana to Grandparent Scams

Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is alerting caring, local seniors about "emergency" scams designed to fool them into thinking that their grandchild is hurt, arrested or stranded and in need of immediate money.

BBB has recently received numerous calls from concerned seniors in the area reporting such scam calls over the last few weeks.

Retirees are an attractive target for financial scammers. As noted by Western Union, emergency scams play off of peoples' emotions and strong desire to help loved family members in need.

Scammers impersonate their victims and make up an urgent situation - "I've been arrested," "I've been mugged," "I'm in the hospital" - and target friends and family with urgent pleas for immediate financial assistance.

According to calls received by BBB, grandparents scammers have even used social media sites to gain more information on victims such as detailed information on family members, especially grandchildren, before making calls to swindle consumers out of money.

BBB offers the following tips to avoid the Grandparent Scam:

· Communicate. Teens should share travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country.

· Share information. Teens should provide the cell phone number and email address of a friend they are traveling with in the case of an emergency. Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.

· Be sure your grandchild is actually out of the country or in trouble. Call him or her directly or check with other family members before sending money to avoid being taken by this scam.

· Know the red flags. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as their grandchild. The "grandchild" explains that he or she has gotten into trouble and needs help, perhaps caused a car accident or was arrested for drug possession. The "grandchild" pleads to the grandparents not to tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars for reasons posting bail, repairing the car, covering lawyer's fees or even paying hospital bills for a person the grandchild injured in a car accident.

· Ask a personal question, but don't disclose too much information. If a grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild in distress, BBB advises that the grandparent not disclose any information before confirming that it really is their grandchild. If a caller says "It's me, Grandma!" don't respond with a name, but instead let the caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that the grandchild would know such as what school he or she goes to or their middle name.

BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, educating, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Find information at bbb.org or call (337) 981-3497 around the clock for information on businesses throughout North America.

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