NBSB Warns Older Americans about Grandparent Scam

The next time you receive a frantic call from someone saying they are your family member or grandchild and they are desperately asking for money, make sure it’s actually your grandchild who’s calling. The “grandparent scam,” is a form of financial abuse that deliberately targets older Americans using impersonation tactics.

To commit this scam, which is also known as a “Family Emergency Scam”, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and in dire need of money immediately. The fraudster might say he’s stranded or has been mugged, or needs helps getting out of jail or out of a foreign country. Often times, the caller will cry to disguise their voice while begging and pleading for the money to be wired. The fraudster could call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. The goal of the scam is to take advantage of the victims love for their family member and trick them into wiring money to help their helpless family member or grandchild. Only later the victim finds out that it wasn’t actually their grandchild they were helping, it was a criminal.

“The grandparent scam or family emergency scam is one that targets emotions and it is important that we prepare ahead of time on how to handle these types of scams,” said Patty Ostrout, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking. “If you receive a suspicious call, it is imperative that before you act on any request made of you that you first verify who you are speaking to. Ask questions, call them back on a familiar number or consult a trusted friend or family member.”

North Brookfield Savings Bank offers these tips to help them prevent impersonation fraud:

  • Confirm the caller. Fraudsters are using social networking sites to gain the personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes. Verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult a trusted family member before acting on any request.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fraudsters want to execute their crimes quickly. The more questions you ask the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam, especially if they suspect you’re on to them.
  • Never give personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Never rush into a financial decision and trust your instincts. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. Feel free to say no and get more information before you send money to someone.

“It is important that as a local community bank that we do our part to educate our communities about potential risks they may face when it comes to fraud,” said Patty Ostrout, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking. “To help prevent elder financial abuse, family and community members can also assist by discussing these topics with our older neighbors and helping them to report any suspicious activity.”

If you feel you are a victim of a scam or identity theft, it is important to act fast! Contact the financial institutions or credit card companies where you feel your information has been compromised, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, file a report with your local police department, and contact one of the 3 major credit bureaus to report what has happened and to add a fraud alert to your credit reports. It may be wise to also contact the IRS, Social Security Administration and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to follow up. Always keep notes of who you contacted and when.