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‘Grandparent’ Scammers Up Their Game

The “Grandparent” scheme has been around for a while now, but according to the Better Business Bureau, the scam has been given a makeover and unfortunately, it’s one that’s likely to make it more effective.

The Grandparent scam involves a scammer calling someone and claiming that they are their granddaughter or grandson. The scammer says they are in some sort of trouble, oftentimes claiming to be locked up in jail, and they request money to be wired to them to get them out of trouble.

Bringing an old scam up-to-date, these scammers are now gathering personalgrandparent-scam information about victims and the relatives they are impersonating. Rather than using their old tactics that involved tricking people by calling and claiming to be a favorite grandson or granddaughter or using language like “Guess who this is.” in order to obtain names, the scammers are arming themselves with personal information before they even make the call.

As a result, the scammers are able to make phone calls to their victims and use the names and other personal information that make their impersonations more believable.

It’s no surprise to me to hear that scammers may be collecting personal information from social networking sites.

I’m continually amazed to see the kinds of personal information people are willing to post on social media sites like Facebook. I know people who put just about every detail of their life online through social media sites.

I suspect it would not take too long to look around Facebook and come up with enough personal information on someone which would allow a scammer to identify someone’s grandparents. There are other sites online where it’s easy to look up someone’s name and phone number. All the scammer needs to do at that point is make the call.

The BBB is reporting that scammers are not limiting their victims to grandparents. They are also contacting other relatives. Oftentimes, they are claiming to be a relative that has been jailed in another country and using the embarrassment of being jailed as a reason to convince the potential victim to stay quiet about it.

As usual, the best defense is vigilance. Always be 100% sure who you are dealing with if you receive a call for help from a relative. There are surely ways to authenticate someone’s identity by asking questions that only a family member would know the answer to.

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