In a new twist on an old scam, older adults all across the United States have been duped into handing over cash at their front door, thinking they’re helping a loved one who is in danger.
It happened to a resident of Lake Oswego in October 2020, and the Oregon Department of Justice has reason to believe the same scammers are making their way back to Oregon to scam even more older adults.
Here’s what you should know to stay safe:
In grandparent scams, scammers pose as panicked grandchildren in trouble, calling or sending messages urging you to wire money immediately. They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency – like paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country. They pull at your heartstrings so they can trick you into sending money before you realize it’s a scam. In these days of Coronavirus concerns, their lies can be particularly compelling. And unlike earlier versions of the scam where callers tell victims they must send money by wire transfer or pre-paid gift cards or some other internet transfer, the caller says it’s urgent and they’ll come to the victim’s home to collect the money.
So, how can you avoid grandparent scams or family emergency scams? If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a grandchild, other family member or friend desperate for money:
- Resist the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- Don’t send cash, gift cards, or money transfers – once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!
- Never open your door for anyone you don’t know.
- Call the police immediately if you have reason to believe you’ve fallen victim to this scam.
If you have fallen victim to a scam, you can file a complaint online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 and ask that a complaint form be mailed to you.
Learn more online at www.oregonconsumer.gov.