City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. It’s the happy time of year filled with the hustle and bustle of preparing to celebrate with family and friends. But for too many of us older women, that holiday cheer will dissolve into holiday tears.
Because, as unfortunate as it is, countless scammers see the holidays as their chance to cash in on our trust and generosity. Like evil Santas, they arrive with bags full of tricks, ready use the spirit of giving to their own advantage.
And on Santa’s scale of naughty or nice, onescamqualifies as the absolute naughtiest (appalling would be a better word.)The culprits behind it spend hours of scouring the Internet and social media sites for information on their chosen targets, in this case, loving grandmothers. They may even hack your email to get your grandchildren’s names.
How does the scam work?
You’ll answer the phone, and a voice at the other end will ask, “Hi, Grandma, do you know who this is?” And then the voice’s owner will wait for you to supply a name. As soon as you do, the caller begins posing as that grandchild using details gleaned from the Internet.
First comes the sad story. Your grandchild is having some sort of emergency that requires money to fix. It could be a medical or legal problem. Or maybe the claim to be away from home and can’t afford to get back for the holidays. But whatever the problem is, their parent’s wouldn’t approve. So they swear you to secrecy.
Then they ask you to wire the necessary funds via Moneygram or Western Union, or to purchase a pre-paid gift or debit card and read them the numbers off its back. And they pull out all the stops to convince you that it *absolutely can’t wait!*
Con artists are very good at judging their marks. And they know that many women over 60 don’t realize how widespread cybercrimes have become.
They also know how the thought of a grandchild needing immediate rescue is enough to make many a grandmother react emotionally instead of rationally. So what can you do to protect yourself from these unscrupulous operators?
For a simple way to stop these scammers in their tracks, come up with questions you think only your grandchildren would know the answers to. If someone calls pretending to be one of them, simply asking the question connected to that grandchild will make short work of the conversation.
And if the caller knows the right answer but you’re still not sure? Don’t send any money until you talk to someone you know and trust who can vouch for the caller’s identity and emergency.
But the best advice for dealing with these grifters comes from the FCC:
“Hang up immediately!”
Do you know anyone who’s fallen victim to the Grandparent scam? What steps have you taken to make sure you aren’t a target?