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What is a grandparent scam?

In a typical grandparent scam, fraudsters exploit the trust and love between grandparents and their grandchildren. The fraudsters often pose as a grandchild or other family member in distress, claiming to be stranded in a foreign location or facing legal troubles. In some scenarios, the fraudster will pose as a third party attempting to help their grandchild get out of a sticky situation. The scammer then urgently requests money to resolve the supposed emergency, often in the form of gift cards or a wire transfer. They usually insist that the situation be kept secret from other family members.

Red Flags to Watch For

  • Urgency of Request: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure victims into acting hastily without verifying information.
  • Secrecy: The individual requests that information about the wire transfer be kept confidential.
  • Unknown Requestor: If you receive a phone call or email prompting you to send money or gift cards you need to independently verify who the requestor is.

Tips to Protect Yourself

  • Verify Identity: Before sending any money, ensure you independently confirm the identity of the person contacting you. Call the grandchild or other family member directly to verify they need your help.
  • Contact Other Family Members: Don’t try to keep this a secret. If your grandchild really is in trouble their family should be made aware of the situation. Corroboration with other relatives can save you from being scammed.
  • Don’t Rush: Fraudsters thrive on creating panic and urgency. Take your time to assess the situation carefully.
  • Don’t Ever Make Payments Via Gift Cards: You cannot post bail with gift cards, nor should gift cards be sent to provide funds for transportation or hotels. You can always purchase a plane or train ticket for your family member directly from the carrier and they can pick up the ticket at the airport or train station. Hotels can also be paid for in this way.
  • Law Enforcement Will Not Demand Payments by Text, Email or Phone: If your family member is in trouble, you may be contacted by law enforcement, usually by phone. They will not contact you via text or email and they will never demand payment from you by phone, text or email.
  • Protect Your Financial Information: Do not EVER give your account financial information to someone who contacts you unexpectedly. If you think the emergency may be real, hang up the phone, look up the number of the party that contacted on the internet you and call the number you got from the internet. DO NOT just dial the number that came through on your phone. Fraudsters are very good at spoofing phone numbers to make you think you are talking to someone else.

Tax Scams

Unfortunately, along with tax season come tax scams. Don’t fall victim to scammers pretending to be the IRS this tax season! Each year, the IRS sees various scams which look to cheat you out of your tax refund or trick you into paying taxes you don’t actually owe to someone who is not the IRS.

The IRS has prepared a summary of many of the common scams they are aware of so that you can spot the signs and protect yourself. Click here to learn more!


How to Avoid Common Consumer Scams

Being able to recognize the signs of common scams before you provide any information personal or financial information can help you avoid falling victim! Protect yourself by learning these four most common signs of a scam and be sure to stop and pause before providing any important information to sources that are not highly trusted. And remember, Advantage Financial FCU will never text or email you asking for private personal or financial information.