Chicago, IL – October 16, 2012– Seniors
are an attractive demographic for scammers and in the “Grandparent Scam” the
kindness of the elderly is exploited. The Better Business Bureau serving
Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) is warning well-meaning seniors about
“emergency” scams designed to fool them into thinking that their grandchild is
hurt, arrested or stranded, and in need of money.
According to recent FBI reports, the “Grandparent Scam” has
been around since 2008 and social media has made it possible for scammers to
have access to more personal information. They impersonate the victim’s
grandchildren and make up an urgent situation – “I’ve been arrested,” “I’ve
been mugged,” “I’m in the hospital” – and target friends and family with urgent
pleas for help, and to wire money.
‘Grandparent Scam’ plays off people’s emotions and when they hear that a family
member needs help they get caught up in the moment,” said Steve J. Bernas,
President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago
and Northern Illinois. “It is important to be
sure that you are speaking with a family member and ask questions to verify
The BBB offers the
following tips to avoid the “Grandparent Scam”:
Teens should share travel plans with family members before leaving the
state or country.
- Share information.
Teens 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 teens to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on
· Know the
red flags. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call
from a scammer posing as their grandchild. The “grandchild” explains that he or
she has gotten into trouble and needs help, perhaps caused a car accident or
was arrested for drug possession. The "grandchild" pleads to the
grandparents not to tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands
of dollars for different reasons such as posting bail, repairing the car, covering lawyer's fees or even paying hospital bills
for a person the grandchild injured in a car accident.
personal question, but don’t disclose too much information. If a
grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild in
distress, the BBB advises that the grandparent not disclose any information
before confirming that it really is their grandchild. If a caller says
"It's me, Grandma!" don't respond with a name, but instead let the
caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to
ask a simple question that only the grandchild would know such as what school
he or she goes to or their middle name.
For more consumer
tips, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the
purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace.
BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation
and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices
and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses
and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or
charity before making a purchase or donation.