Spring Break Grandparent Scam

Spring break is notoriously known as a time when college kids travel to let loose and blow off a little steam. Parents know it, grandparents know it, and, unfortunately, so do unscrupulous scammers who use the opportunity to play on the sympathies of the elderly.

It’s known as the "Grandparent Scam". Scam artists will call a grandparent pretending to be a grandchild or friend of a grandchild, requesting money to bail them out of a tough spot—to help get out of jail, fix a broken car or otherwise get them out of trouble. They ask the grandparents not to tell anyone, and they always ask for cash in the form of wire transfers.

Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites have taken the scam to a new, frightening level. Scammers learn about a student’s travel plans through these sites, along with personal information such as names of family and friends, the college they attend, and their home town—information that convinces the senior that the call and the need are legitimate.

The Better Business Bureau has released a updated alert and offers the following tips to avoid the “Grandparent Scam” this spring break:
  • Students should share spring break travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country.
  • Students should provide the cell phone number and email address of a friend they are traveling with in the case of an emergency.
  • Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.
  • If a grandparent or relative receives a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild in distress, BBB advises not to disclose any information before confirming the person’s true identity. Ask a personal question about their childhood that only close family would know.
  • If a grandparent is new to a social networking site such as Facebook, family should caution them not to reveal too much personal information.

Caregiverlist previously blogged about senior scams during the holidays and the same advice holds true for spring break’s Grandparent Scam. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a scam or fraud, report it to your local police department and Department on Aging. You may help prevent others from becoming victims as well.

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