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November 28, 2023

3 Signs of a Grandparent Scam to Share with Your Members

3 Signs of a Grandparent Scam to Share with Your Members

It’s the holiday season, and unfortunately, it’s also the season for fraud. People can use the internet and technology to trick you into thinking they are your loved one. Although this type of scam is commonly called a “grandparent scam,” it can happen to anyone at any age.

Share the following warning signs with your credit union members to help them spot a fake emergency, and to show them how to help a family member being scammed.

1. Insisting Upon Secrecy

If the person contacting you insists you can’t tell anyone about their story, it’s likely a fake emergency. They may have a seemingly legitimate reason, such as not wanting to get in trouble with their parents. If you call close family members, you’ll likely discover this person isn’t who they claim to be.

Keep your guard up, as they will likely do everything they can to make you comply. Realize that if this is a loved one, contacting close relatives to confirm the situation is reasonable.

2. Urging You to Act Now

The story could be extremely dramatic (scammers have had a lot of practice!), but you need to resist the urge to act immediately. In a typical grandparent scam, the caller says they need cash for an emergency, such as paying a hospital bill or getting out of a foreign country. They will try their best to make you worry to the point that you quickly comply before you have the chance to realize it’s a fake emergency.

With today’s technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and social media, people can trick you into believing they are someone you know.

3. Requesting Payment by Gift Card or Money Transfer

This may seem like an obvious red flag, but when you get an urgent, realistic message from a loved one, the payment method is the least of your concerns. Remember that a request for payment by gift card or wire transfer is always a scam. These payment methods make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get your money back.

You may also be asked for other personal information like your address, social security number, or bank account information. No matter how legitimate you think the person is, resist the urge to answer their questions. Hang up and talk to someone you trust who is close to the supposed caller.

How to Help a Family Member Being Scammed

If a loved one reaches out to you, and you realize they’re being scammed, be sure to share what you’ve learned. Explain the three common signs of a grandparent scam and see if what they’re experiencing is similar. Depending on whether they’ve already sent money, their financial institution should be contacted, as well as local law enforcement.

Report scams at and learn more about how to help a family member being scammed by visiting

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