Grandparent Scams During Spring Break

Spring break has started throughout the country, and fraudsters are using it to exploit grandparents' love for their family.

In this scam, fraudsters pretend to be a grandchild or another family member, claiming to be stranded or facing legal trouble without money; in some cases, they'll pose as a third-party, such as a lawyer, who can help the grandchild get out of trouble.  They urgently ask for money through wire transfers or gift cards, to help them out as soon as possible.  Lastly, they'll ask to keep this all a secret between them out of embarrassment or to prevent more trouble from their parents.

If you're in this situation with a loved one during spring break, watch out for these warning signs of a scam:

  1. The request is urgent:  Fraudsters pressure you into acting quickly without confirming the story.
  2. The request is made in secrecy:  Fraudsters ask you to keep the story and your assistance a secret between them.
  3. The request involves unusual transactions:  They ask to send the money through wires or gift cards.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim, do the following:

  1. Verify Story First:  Confirm you're asking speaking with your grandchild or loved one.  Speak with another family member to corroborate the story, even if the fraudster told you to keep it a secret.
  2. Take Your Time:  Fraudsters want you to act quickly.  However, spend time to check if the story makes sense or if your grandchild or loved one is acting as expected.
  3. Refuse Transfers:  If you're asked to wire money or purchase and send multiple gift cards, it's likely that the request is a scam.  Refuse until you can confirm the details.
  4. Safeguard Your Information:  If they ask for your personal or bank information, refuse this request; prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.