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This Grandparents Day, BBB reminds of scam

Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 12:01 am

With Sunday being Grandparents Day, BBB Serving Northern Indiana is warning seniors to be on the lookout for a scheme commonly referred to as the "grandparent scam."

Here's how it works: The scammer preys on the grandparents' desire to aid their grandchildren. Typically, a grandparent receives a frantic phone call from someone who poses as his or her grandchild. Scammers, who have done research on the family, explains that they're in trouble and need help, usually saying they're trapped in another country or involved in a serious accident or emergency. The "grandchild" pleads to the grandparents to not tell his or her parents and asks that they wire money to help immediately.

Unfortunately, senior citizens have always been frequent targets of scammers. They are often trusting and quickly willing to help a loved one. Thieves also know seniors can have Social Security income, pensions, investments and plenty in savings. That makes them attractive targets for con artists. And when it comes to a grandchild in need of help, emotions can run high. Scammers can find ways to take advantage of that.

Recent reports from the Consumer Sentinel Network show a steady increase in impostor scam reports over the last several years; from just above 60,000 in 2010 to close to 83,000 in 2012. The grandparent scam is a common type of impostor scam targeted at senior citizens.

BBB offers these tips to avoid becoming victim to a grandparent scam:

*Be skeptical. Ask questions only the grandchild could know the answer to, without revealing too much personal information yourself. Ask the name of a pet, a favorite dish or what school they attend.

*Your loved one should not get angry about you being too cautious. Verify information. Check with the parents to see if their child is really travelling as they say they are.

*Don't wire money. Never use a transfer service to send money to someone you haven't met in person, or for an emergency you haven't verified is real.

Know where to turn. If you fall victim to a scam, report the incident immediately to local police and your state Attorney General's office.