It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’ve already sent a card to your grandmother, grandfather, or the older adult in your life. But if you haven’t told them lately that you love them, pick up the phone and call, too. While you’re catching up, remind them that you’ll never pressure them to wire you money or buy you gift cards — but a scammer might.
Scammers use fake family emergencies to target older adults. They call pretending to be a grandkid in trouble, or a lawyer or police officer on the scene. They ask for money, but once the grandparent finds out there was no emergency, the scammer’s gone — and so is their money. You may not get these scam calls, but chances are you know someone who will get one — if they haven’t already. Sharing is caring.
Here’s what you might say to help an older adult in your life spot a scam:
- “I’ll never call and ask you to send money for an emergency. That’s a scam. Hang up!” No matter who a caller claims to be, resist the urge to send money immediately. If they ask you to pay in ways that are hard to trace — by wiring money, sending a money order, or paying with gift cards, reloadable cards, or cryptocurrency — that’s a scam.
- “If someone pressures you to secretly send money to get me (or someone you know) out of trouble, that’s a scam. Slow down and check it out.” Scammers don’t want you talking to anyone else and realizing it’s a scam. Don’t keep it quiet, especially if you can’t reach the person who’s supposed to be in trouble. Call someone else you trust to help figure out whether there’s really an emergency.
Learn more about scams that target older adults at ftc.gov/PassItOn and report scammers at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.