If you have elderly family members or loved ones, you might need to talk to them about a new scam, popularly referred to as the ‘granny scam.’ Though con artists have been targeting elderly people for decades, this new scam is particularly nasty as it preys on the emotional ties that keep families together. This new scam has the potential to cost elderly people across the country a lot of money.
The Granny Scam
The new ‘granny scam’ is deceptively simple. An elderly person receives an urgent phone call from a loved one who claims he (or she) is in need of money very quickly and needs the elderly person to send or transfer money right away. The caller may provide important pieces of information, such as confirming the vacation locale, relationship, or something similar. Once the money is transferred, the elderly person learns the caller was an impersonator and the money is long gone.
Social Media Often Used for Research
While social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, may not be used nearly as widely by elderly people as by younger generations, criminals use these outlets to research potential targets. Con artists find family member information by going through social media profiles. Armed with these personal details, they convince elderly relatives to send money by impersonating their children, grandchildren, or other loved ones.
Experts say there are steps the elderly and their family members can take to reduce the risk of falling victim to these scams. Everyone can be more careful about the personal information posted online. Keeping online profiles private can also restrict who has access to your personal details.
Beyond that, children, grandchildren, and elderly relatives can agree to a secret password or phrase that only they know. Then if someone actually needs help, everyone knows to use the secret password. If you receive a call from someone claiming to need help and that person doesn’t use the password, you know it is a scam.
Elder Care Scams on the Rise
The amount of money elderly people lose to con artists grows all the time and is currently just under $3 billion per year. As the number of baby boomers becoming senior citizens increases by 10,000 per day, the number of potential victims is growing by leaps and bounds. Con artists know that seniors are more susceptible to these types of schemes and much less likely to report any losses because of the shame and guilt that accompanies being a victim.
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Parman & Easterday