Whether you are a grandparent or you have a grandparent, this blog post will arm you with important information about how to protect you or your loved ones from the “grandparent scam”.
How does this scam work?
You’ll receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild in severe financial trouble. Typically, the scammer tells you they need emergency funds to pay for medical bills, travel out of a foreign country or bail. The “grandchild” pleads for you to not tell other relatives because they’re embarrassed or scared. Wanting to help, you send money via wire transfer to the scammer.
These scammers are good at convincing you that they really are your grandchild. They provide convincing details, such as family names and school details (which they may have sourced through social media), while other times they rely on you to share that sensitive information:
“Grandpa? Do you know who this is?”
“John, is that you?”
This scam can also work in reverse, where the “grandparent” calls their grandchild pleading for help.
Tips to avoid being a target of the grandparent scam:
- Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Ask hard-to-answer questions. Does the caller know the name of your dog? How about his/her mom’s birthday? Be cautious if the person avoids the questions or changes the subject. Be cautious about sharing personal information over the phone.
- Independently verify the call. Contact a friend, another family member or your grandchild to assess and verify the situation (use a known telephone number, not the one provided by the caller). Does it make sense? Is your grandchild actually in the hospital/out of country/in jail? Never send money unless you’re 100% confident about the recipient.
- Know what your family members are sharing online. You may not have control over your family’s social media accounts, but familiarize yourself with what they are sharing online, so you’re aware of what information may be available publicly.
- Share information about this scam. The more people that know about this scam, the fewer people will become victims. Share details about this scam with your friends and family members, especially ones that are grandparents.
If you’ve been a victim of this scam, report it to your local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific sectors and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.