North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is reminding residents to avoid grandparent scams, as this Sunday (September 11) is Grandparent’s Day.
Many seniors look forward to phone calls from their loved ones this Grandparents Day, but unfortunately calls from grandparent scammers come year-round. Some North Carolina grandparents have reported losing as much as $60,000 to scammers posing as their grandkids in distress.
The con starts with a caller who says “Grandma/grandpa, it’s me!” The scammer pretends to be a grandchild in distress—injured, in trouble with the law, or in danger while traveling abroad—but says they don’t want mom or dad to know about it. They may also ask the grandparent not to call them back on their mobile phone, saying that it’s been confiscated or damaged. Then they ask the grandparent to wire money via services like Western Union or MoneyGram, or by loading money onto prepaid credit cards, reloadable debit cards, or gift cards. Victims usually don’t know they’ve been scammed until the money is gone for good.
To make sure you and your loved ones avoid the grandparent scam:
- Don’t answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize or emails from addresses that aren’t familiar to you.
- Beware of anyone who asks you to send money immediately, no matter the reason.
- Don’t share information about you or your family with anyone you don’t know who calls, emails, or contacts you through other means.
- If you get a call or a message asking for help, hang up or log off and contact the person directly at a number you know is theirs to make sure the request is legitimate.
- If someone claims to be a loved one, ask the person questions that only your real family member would be able to answer.
- Be careful about what you share on social media. Make sure your privacy settings prevent strangers from accessing information about you or your family.
- Never wire or send money in response to a phone call, email or online message. Once the money has been received by a fraudster, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
- If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov.