How to Avoid The Grandparents Scam

Today, there are warnings everywhere that one should be careful with their money. The need for this is even more prominent in a world where not everyone plays by the rules. Unfortunately, someone may try to scam you out of your money. One such scheme, the grandparents scam, is especially important to look out for.

It’s called the grandparent scam because it targets elderly people by saying that the caller (or the one who writes the e-mail) is their grandson and is in trouble. They say that they need money wired to them in a foreign country because they have been arrested, mugged, or otherwise in need of cash, but they don’t want their parents to know about it.

It’s a little easier for them if they know what they’re doing. For one, they tend to call late at night or early in the morning when people aren’t thinking the most clearly. Also, the rise of social media has helped them as well. They can now do research about the grandchild’s life so that the request is personally tailored to each victim.

It is called the grandparents scam, but the caller does not always claim to be a grandchild. Sometimes they claim to be another relative or a family friend. Furthermore, military families are targeted as well, with the caller saying they had a problem while on military leave.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, don’t react hastily when a caller or e-mail requests money. Contact the family member yourself to see if they were the one who called. Once you wire money, you can’t get it back, so it is not something you should do based on a call or e-mail. If you do fall victim to the scam, you should contact your local authorities. Usually the losses are large (in the thousands), but not substantial enough that the FBI gets involved in an investigation.

The chances that someone you know will actually need money from you wired to a foreign account are extremely low. If you do get such a call or e-mail and are concerned, don’t act hastily. Try to contact the relative to see if the request was legitimate. The best way to keep from falling for the grandparents scam is to refrain from wiring money at all. It’s as bad as handing out cash: once you give the money away, it’s gone.

Kari Johnson

Kari Johnson is a first-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, having lived in North Carolina her whole life. At UNC, she is a declared Religious Studies major, and intends to study some form of writing as well during her time and Chapel Hill. She plans to graduate in 2014, after participating in undergraduate research and a study abroad program.

Kari discovered the magic of writing early, in elementary school, and has devoted every spare moment to it since. She writes fiction for her own amusement, and recently began writing articles for The Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill. Besides writing, she loves spending time with friends and family, reading, and drinking coffee. She defines herself based on her faith in God, her family roots, and her dream of one day publishing a best-selling novel.

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