NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a warning about a scam that is targeting grandparents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the attorney general, scammers fraudulently pose as a grandchild calling grandparents asking for money.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many grandparents have not seen their grandchildren for months and may be especially susceptible to this common and despicable scam,” said Attorney General James. “I urge all New Yorkers to be on the alert for this type of fraud, and to protect themselves and their family members by following these tips. We should all be speaking with elderly family members and warning them that scammers are ready to prey on their love of family in an effort to take their money.”
The attorney general says you should follow these steps to avoid the scam
- Take a pause. Scammers create a sense of urgency to prey on victims’ emotions and their love for family members.Verify any supposed emergency by calling friends and family before sending money. This is especially important if a potential victim has been warned not to do so.
- A grandparent may think they would know whether they were speaking to their own grandchild or to an imposter, but it is easy to be fooled. The caller may be crying or the background may be noisy, or the caller may claim the connection is bad.
- If the caller purports to be a bail bondsperson, ask where the relative is being held and contact the facility directly. Grandparents can also call their local police department, where officers may be able to call the jail and confirm the story.
- Be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly asking to be sent money.
- Never send cash through the mail.
- Never purchase pre-paid debit cards or gift cards for the purpose of transferring money.
- Develop a secret code or “password” with family members that can be used to verify the identity of family members over the phone.
- Ask a question that only the real grandchild would know the answer to, such as “what was the name of your first pet?”
- Set Facebook and other social media settings to private to limit information available to scammers, such as the name of grandchildren.
You can read more about the scam by clicking here.