BBB warns against ‘Grandparent Scam’

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 8:41 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - While college students are moving away from home, scammers are calling senior citizens and impersonating their grandchildren.

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is seeing a rise in reports of “grandparent scams,” where scammers are pretending to be a child, grandchild or friend in an attempt to get the called party to wire money.

Scammers posing as relatives are claiming they are in difficult situations and that they need money immediately. Some reported scams involve the scammer saying they have been arrested, mugged or hospitalized, the BBB says.

A Missouri woman reported a call involving a scammer claiming to be her grandson. The scammer said he had been jailed after a car accident and asked for $9,500 for attorney fees. The woman then received a call from a man posing as her son’s public defender.

The BBB urges people not to let their guard down and to follow these tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be aware of the red flags that typically include the caller saying they are in trouble and asking the called party not to tell their family about the call.
  • Instead of reacting emotionally, stay calm and contact other members of the family to determine if the call is legitimate.
  • Ask the caller a personal question without disclosing too much information. Families can consider creating a secret code to use during a true emergency.
  • Do not wire money if you aren’t certain of the recipient’s identity.
  • Students should regularly communicate with their family, especially about travel plans.
  • Report the scam to the BBB.