WASHINGTON — Every year thousands of seniors fall victim to impersonation scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, between 2012 and 2014, consumers reported more than $42 million in losses from scams involving the impersonation of family members and friends. These scams, commonly known as the “grandparent scam,” is a form of financial abuse that deliberately targets older Americans.
To commit this crime, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and in need of money immediately. The scammer might say he’s stranded or has been mugged and call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. Once the money is wired, the victim later finds out that it wasn’t their grandchild they were helping, it was a criminal.
“Fraudsters have no problem preying on your goodwill to get inside your wallet,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director, ABA Foundation. “They’re using social media and internet searches to fabricate convincing stories, so be careful, trust your gut and do your best to confirm who you’re dealing with before sending any money.”
As part of its Safe Banking for Seniors campaign, ABA Foundation is offering these tips to combat the grandparent scam:
- Confirm the caller. Fraudsters are using social networking sites to gain the personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes. Verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult a trusted family member before acting on any request.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fraudsters want to execute their crimes quickly. In this type of scam, they count on fear and your concern for your loved one to make you act before you think. The more questions you ask the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam if they suspect you’re on to them.
- Never give personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
- Never rush into a financial decision and trust your instincts. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. Feel free to say no and get more information before you send money to someone.
For more information on elder abuse visit aba.com/seniors