Scam Buster: The Grandparents Scam
By: Rayleen M. Pirnie, AAP
RP Payments Risk Consulting Services, &
iTod Expert Speaker
Bad guys out there want your elderly customers' money, and United States seniors are finding out these fraudsters will stoop pretty low to get it.
They claim they have been hurt or arrested, and need money fast. If the caller’s voice doesn’t sound like your customer's grandchild, and s/he ask the caller why they sound strange, the caller will say they have a cold or come up with some other reason.
They may even put someone else on the phone who will claim to be a doctor, a lawyer or a police officer, to support the story that you need to send money right away. They use phrases like “I really need your help, Grandma” or “I know I can count on you, Grandpa” and they will ask your customer not to tell the family. Often they will say things like “Don’t tell Dad, ok, Grandma? You know how he is!” And sometimes the caller will even know your customer's name! (The internet is where they look for this information).
Tell your customer that just because someone knows his/her name doesn’t mean the caller really knows them. Too many U.S. seniors have fallen for this scam and are losing a lot of money. Don’t let your accountholders/members be the next victim.
Pass these instructions on to your elderly customers, and direct them to take the following steps upon receipt of a similar call:
- 1. Even if the caller says not to call anyone else, like another family member, call anyway! One call to your son and you may learn your grandson isn’t really in trouble. Your family would rather you call, even if it’s really late at night, then fall for this scam!
- 2. Tell the caller you have to check with your family. The caller will probably just hang up and try someone else.
- 3. Make sure you have your grandkids cell phone number. If someone calls you claiming to be them, call them on their cell phone.
- 4. Don’t get pushed around! Some of these people get mean if you say you won’t pay, or you hesitate and start asking questions. This is usually the person claiming to be a doctor, lawyer or police officer. Remember, police officers will never talk down to you or try to intimidate you, but bad guys lying about who they are will!
- 5. Ask questions only your grandchild should know, like “well, since you claim to be my grandson, but you don’t sound like him, what did I get you for your birthday?” The scammer won’t know!
- 6. If you believe it’s a scam, hang up and call the police department. Talk to your banker for more information on this scam and how to protect yourself and your family.