Grandparent scams are nothing new, but there are certain times of year—like spring break—when they can ramp up as students head out of town on spring break.

Who Is It Targeting: Phone users

What Is It: A grandparent scam is a phishing scam that claims your family member is in trouble

What Are They After: A grandparent scam gets its name from the fact that it once targeted the elderly. However, now anyone can receive a phone call or email that claims someone they know is in trouble and needs help. A typical story might claim that your friend or relative has been arrested and needs money for bail or court costs.

Another might say someone is in the hospital and needs funds immediately for their care. There are even ones that claim someone has been kidnapped and will be hurt if you fail to pay the ransom. There is always some reason why they cannot let you speak to the individual. The information is easily gleaned from your social media accounts, giving the caller a name that you know to use in their scam.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Never make a payment over the phone to anyone you do not know or were not expecting to hear from
  • Remember that prepaid debit cards, wire transfers and iTunes gift cards would never be required payment methods for the police or a hospital
  • If you receive a call like one of these, say that you have to go to the store or bank to secure the money and have them call you back; during that time, reach out to your friend or relative to confirm that they are okay

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For the latest scams, sign-up for our TMI (Too Much Information) Weekly newsletter.


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