Posing as your child, grandchild or other loved one is an all-time low even for scammers, but they do it – because they know people act spontaneously in crisis or panic mode. Especially when it involves helping a family member.
How to spot a “family emergency imposter scam” or “grandparent scam”:
- Scammers call or send an email, posing as an authority figure like a lawyer or police officer. They can even “spoof” the caller ID to make it seem like the call is coming from a legitimate source.
- There’s urgency involved. Usually a grandchild or other family member is sick, in danger or in legal trouble and needs money right away.
- Scammers often ask for that money through a wire or payment app, like Cash App or Zelle®. Or, they may want you to buy gift cards and send them pictures of the front and back of those cards.
- Scammers are even using artificial intelligence to “mimic” the voice of a trusted loved one – a few seconds of their social media content is all scammers need.
What to do if you get a call like this:
- First, remember that real lawyers or police officers would never ask for payment like this. Don’t be pressured into sending money.
- Hang up immediately and contact your family at their direct numbers – in all likelihood, you’ll be relieved to find they are perfectly ok!
- Call local law enforcement directly.
- File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Getting an urgent call like this is alarming, but knowing the signs of this type of scam can help you, and your loved ones, be better prepared for a scam attempt.
If you think you’ve been a victim of a scammer impersonating a loved one, contact your financial institution right away. Summit members, you can reach us at 800-236-5560.