Scammers operate in very sneaky ways. In 2017, the number of seniors who were scammed was actually lower than millennials who fell for scams. Senior citizens did lose more money to scams, however.

There’s one scam that’s been around for a while and still fools seniors. Don’t let your parent fall for the grandparent scam. Here’s an in-depth look at how this scam works.

It Starts With an Urgent Call

The grandparent scam begins with an urgent call. The call may come in at an unusual time. It might be late at night or early morning, but the scammers try to catch the senior while asleep. In a half-awake state, a senior may be more likely to fall for the scam.

During the call, the senior learns a grandchild has been arrested or was in an accident. Money is needed to pay legal fees or medical expenses. If the grandparent doesn’t come up with the money, the child will be in serious trouble.

The grandparent scam doesn’t always have to involve a phone call. Some scammers will use the email and contact seniors that way.

Personal Information is Always Included

The callers always have personal information to make the call seem legitimate. They get this information from easily accessible websites that list person’s family members and ages.

It’s also possible for scammers to check social media sites to track where a grandchild is. That was the case in one scam where the caller was able to tell a senior citizen that the student was calling from a specific college. The student happened to be enrolled in that out-of-state college, so it came off as being legitimate.

If a grandparent comments that the caller doesn’t sound like the grandchild, a reasonable excuse is given. The caller may say that the seatbelt dug into the throat during a crash.

What Happens Next?

Once the grandparent is fooled by the caller’s story, they’re told to wire money. Once that money is sent, there’s no way to trace it. As the first call was successful, the caller may make additional calls demanding more money for some new, unexpected legal fee or medical procedure.

Ways to Prevent the Scam

Try to get your parent to always call you first. While the caller may say the money is needed immediately, your parent should hang up and call you. You can verify if a grandchild is really in trouble. Calling the police is another safe route.

Your parent could also come up with a very specific question that only the grandchild would know. For example, if the grandchild’s favorite toy was named Bun-Bun, your parent could ask the caller what the grandchild’s favorite toy was named.

Keep your parent from answering calls from strangers. Senior care professionals spend time with your parent and can monitor phone usage. Call a senior care agency to learn more.

If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Plymouth, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.