What if you get a call or an email out of the blue from someone who is claiming to be a friend or relative. This will often happen to grandparents and the caller is claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter. The caller then says that there is an emergency and asks you to send money immediately. You need to beware, there is a good chance that this is an impostor who is trying to steal your money! Follow these tips and avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
How and why do these scammers choose you to contact?
Sometimes they will contact people randomly. They will also use marketing lists, telephone listings, and information from social networking websites, obituaries and many other sources. They sometimes hack into people’s email accounts and will send messages to everyone on their contact list.
How can these scammers know the names of your friends and relatives?
In some cases, they actually don’t. For example, the scammer may say “Hi grandma,” with the hope that you actually have a grandson. If you answer and ask, “Billy, is that you?” the scammer will of course say “Yes!” Very often these crooks will call in the middle of the night. They do this to take advantage of the fact that you are not be awake enough to ask more questions. And you are not going to want to disturb other people by calling them to confirm the information. And sometimes these scammers do know the names of your friends or relatives. They are able to get that information from a variety of sources. Your relatives might be mentioned on a social networking website or in an obituary. Your email contact list may also contain the names of friends and relatives.
What do these scammers frequently say?
They may say something like, “I’m in a distant state and I am attempting to get home but my car has broken down and I need money immediately to get it fixed.” Or they could claim to have been mugged or been in an automobile accident. Or they could say they need money for bail or to pay customs fees to get back into the United States from another country. They may also pretend to be an attorney or law enforcement official contacting you on behalf of a relative or a friend. It doesn’t matter what the story may be, they always want you to send money immediately.
How can you protect your email account from being accessed and used by scammers?
You should use a firewall and anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Almost all computers will come with these features already included in the system. They are also very easy to find online on the Internet. You need to keep your software updated. Don’t ever open attachments that are included in emails from people you do not know. It is very possible that they can contain programs that enable scammer to gain access into your computer remotely.
What other things can you do to protect yourself?
If you receive a call or an email from someone who is claiming to know you and asking for help, check and confirm that it is legitimate before you send any money. Ask some questions that would be difficult for an impostor and con artist to answer correctly. You can ask such questions like the name of the person’s pet or the date of one of their parent’s birthday. You should try to directly contact the person who they are claiming to be. If you aren’t able reach the person, you should contact someone else like a friend or relative of the person. Don’t ever send money unless you are absolutely sure it’s the real person that you know. For more information about protecting yourself from fraud, you can go to http://www.consumerfed.org/fraud
Repercussions of Being Scammed
Grandparents who have been scammed are often too embarrassed to go to the authorities or even to confide in and tell other family members. Their confidence may be shaken and/or they may even become withdrawn or depressed. Sometimes they will become fearful about answering the phone, fearing another scammer may be on the line.
If you realize that you have been scammed, what can you do? These scammers will ask you to send money through services such as Western Union and MoneyGram because they are able pick it up quickly, and in cash. They will often use phony IDs, which makes it impossible to trace them. Contact the money transfer service immediately and report the scam. If the money has not been picked up yet, you can get it back. But if they have picked it up, it is not like a check that you can put a stop payment on, it is like cash and the money is gone.
In addition, you can notify the following governmental agencies:
Thanks for taking the time to read my post on How To Protect Yourself From The Grandparent Scam. I hope it provided a service to the reader and helped in some way. Feel free to share this post with someone that could use the information. Please leave Comments and Questions below. Also, if you know of a Scam, please leave the information below and I will be glad to investigate. Take care.