Grandparents and Scams

By Nicholas Goodman, MiCAFE Network Specialist 

What do grandparents and the holidays have in common? The spirit of giving. Unfortunately, scammers exploit this trait and financially ruin lives. Stories to trick a person into giving money vary widely, from a supposed grandchild being in jail to scammers posing as the Internal Revenue Services or Social Security Administration.  

A new report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), research indicates that in 2018, people age 70 and over, sent an average of $9,000 in cash to someone posing as a family member or friend. The FTC explains, “Like many scams, these start with a phone call using some common ploys. In about half of the reports of cash payments, people said the caller claimed to be in jail or other legal trouble. About a third of these reports mentioned a so-called car accident (some mentioning texting or drinking while driving). In both cases, the callers play on people’s emotions and sense of loyalty: they may be told they’re the only person trusted enough to call for help, and they’re often told not to tell anyone.”  

If you receive a call asking you to send cash in the mail, the FTC offers the following tips: 

  • Don’t act right away, no matter how dramatic the story is. 
  • Call that family member or friend, and make sure you use a phone number that you know is right. Or check it out with someone else in your circle, even if the caller told you to keep it a secret. 
  • Be careful about what you post on social media. If your personal details are public, someone can use them to defraud you and people who care about you. 

Scammers seek out new victims and pull at their heartstrings. This time of year, people are more willing to give to others, be wary of giving to everyone who asks. If you’d like to learn more about the latest trend with cash scams, read the full article from the FTC.