Don’t Be Fooled By The Common
“Relative In Trouble” Scam
You get a phone call that one of your relatives has had an accident, been robbed, or is stranded in another country. Your loved one needs cash and asks that you wire the money. This scam has been around a while, but the number of people (particularly the elderly) who are falling for it is rising. Do the following so you don’t get scammed:
Ø Question the caller about the family member in trouble. The call may start with “Hi Grandma!” (Scammers may get family information from social networking sites.) Before saying a name, ask the caller for their middle name. If the caller says, “It’s about your granddaughter,” ask “Which one?” before saying a name.
Ø Don’t let the caller instill fear. Fear that something bad will happen if the money is not sent can be a motivating factor to comply with the request. Fear can cloud rational thinking.
Ø Don’t keep the call a secret. Posing to be your relative, the caller may say they are too embarrassed and to not tell others. But don’t be fooled by this trick – let others know about the request immediately. Ask the caller if you can call back – they won’t want to give you a number.
Ø Try to make contact with the “real” person. Hang up with the imposter and call, email, or text your real relative. If they are on vacation, contact other relatives to find out their itinerary.
If you get a “relative in trouble” call or fall for something else you think is a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Go to www.ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. You also can contact your State Attorney General’s office.