Would you steal from Grandma? Scammers would. How to protect her?
Picture this: your 80-year old grandma receives a phone call and then it goes like this: "Hi grandma, it's me! Sorry to bother you, but I have some troubles, please don’t tell mom..." Sounds pretty normal, doesn’t it? Except for one thing: the person who’s calling isn’t you.
The scenario is always the same. A trusting grandparent answers a phone call from unknown number and then he or she hears this: “Hi, it’s me, your grandchild, I’m in trouble. Could you please help me?”
Sounds like a normal family call, but of course, it is not (although the hypothetical older lady from our example doesn’t know it yet and, in the end, she will probably lose a big amount of money). What we picture here is so called “grandparent scam”, a popular tactics how to steal money from trusting older people. And, unfortunately, it’s more and more often.
Question 1: How does grandparent scam look like?
AnswerThe grandparent scam is a very usual form of telephone fraud. The scammer pretends to be a grandchild in distress. Usually, he or she informs the victim that, because of unspecified unfortunate events, he or she ended up in jail and now needs money to be released on bail. In other scenarios, the scammers pretend to need money because of an injury or some other accident. And who wouldn’t help own family, right?
Question 2: Why don’t grandparents recognize the voice of their grandchild?
AnswerThis question is really easy to understand. Honestly - who wouldn’t recognize the voice of an own grandchild?
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. Not only identifying voices over the phone is difficult for everybody, but also scammers are really careful not to be revealed. So they usually complain about bad connection or cold during the phone call. Sometimes, a “grandchild” even passes the phone over to his “attorney” who gives grandma information on how to wire the money.
Question 3: How do scammers choose their target?
AnswerTo be honest, nobody knows for sure. Sometimes it’s totally random (until a grandparent answers a call), sometimes are scammers looking information up from the internet. Do they know your phone number, family member’s name or where you are living? Some have suggested that the possible source of information could be Facebook.
Question 4: How to protect your family against grandparent scam?
AnswerIf you’ve already become a victim of a phone scam, it’s usually very difficult to claim your lost money back. And it’s not about small amounts of money. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that grandparent scams and other impostor scams cost Americans millions of dollars each year. That means: it’ always better safe than sorry.
The scammers can be very persuasive, so it’s best to avoid them completely. The easiest way how to do it is to use one of those apps that block all spam and nuisance calls for you. Want to try it? Download the popular Should I Answer app for your Android, for free and we guarantee that you and your family will be safe. (And don't worry: it's really easy to use for everybody.)
(Not an Android user? Let’s check the new app for your iPhone)