Don’t lose your money to scammers. Here’s how family emergency scam calls work

Don't fall for scam calls and robocallsPicture this: your 80-year old grandma receives a phone call and then it goes like this: “Hi grandma, it’s me! Sorry to bother you, but I have some troubles, please don’t tell mom…” Sounds pretty normal, doesn’t it? Except for one thing: the person who’s calling is neither you nor anyone you know.

The scenario is always the same. A trusting family member (usually a grandparent) answers a phone call from an unknown number. Then they hear something like this: “Hi, it’s me, your grandchild, I’m in trouble. Could you please help me?”

Grandparent scam exploits natural human emotions

The so-called grandparent scam has long been one of the most popular strategies on which fraudsters bet. This is because they exploit natural human emotions: love for loved ones, fear for their safety and a willingness to help them whenever and however they can. 

What do these tactics look like? First, scammers call a trusting senior and pretend to be their family member, usually a grandchild. Then they serve them a touching and slightly confusing story – as their narrative on the other end of the phone line makes clear, they’ve gotten into trouble and the only way to get out of it is Grandma’s money. 

The scammer also rushes their victims to pay so they don’t have time to think twice or check things out before they send money. And once they do that, they’ll never get it back.

How to avoid family emergency scams?

There are some rules you should always keep in mind. Even when caught off guard. 

Here’s what the FTC suggests:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately — no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Call or message your loved one who (supposedly) contacted you. Even though the caller says not to. But use a number you know is right, not one the caller gives you.
  • Never send cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or money transfers. Once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!

Get protection against grandparent scam

If you’ve already become a victim of any kind of scam, follow these steps to get your money back. Don’t want to lose your money ever again? Make sure to get an efficient protection against scammers, for example the Should I Answer app for Android. It will block all incoming scam calls for you, so you don’t have to deal with scammers anymore.

Get the app for free (Android)

(Not an Android user? Let’s check the new app for your iPhone)