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Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014 - 2:08:00 AM 

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The 'Grandparent Scam'
By Paula Fleming
Sep 3, 2014 - 12:07:23 AM

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Marlborough, MA - This Sunday, September 7th, is Grandparents Day and as we begin to celebrate this day with the ones we love, it's important to take the time to educate seniors on the scams that also target them.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about emergency scams that are designed to trick unsuspecting seniors into believing that their grandchild has been hurt, arrested or stranded, and in need of money.

The "Grandparent Scam" has been taking place for years, as seniors are an attractive target for scammers looking for fast cash. Emergency scams play off people's emotions and desire to help those in need, as scammers are actually impersonating their victims' grandchildren pretending to need help. Scammers make up a situation such as being arrested, mugged, or in the hospital, in the hopes of being wired money quickly. Scammers use the information from social media accounts to supply enough personal details to make their requests appear legitimate.

BBB offers the following tips to avoid falling victim to an emergency scam:

Communicate with Family. Teenagers and parents should share their travel plans with immediate family members before leaving the state or country. Be sure to let any seniors in your family know and not to post any information of traveling on social media sites.

Share Information. Travelers should provide the cell phone number and email address for themselves and a friend they are traveling with in case of an actual emergency. Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans online.

Know the Red Flags. Typically, a grandparent receives a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as their grandchild. The scammer explains that he or she has gotten into trouble and needs help. The scammer pleads to the grandparents not to tell his or her parents and asks that they wire money immediately. BBB advises never to send money to someone you have not met in person, as wire transfers are impossible to trace.

Ask for Personal Information. If a grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild, BBB advises that they do not disclose any information before confirming that it really is their grandchild. If a caller says, "It's me, Grandma!" don't respond with a name, but instead ask the caller to explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that the grandchild would know, such as what school they go to or their middle name.

Confirm Details. If it's still not clear whether or not the caller is actually a family member, hang up and call another family member to confirm whether or not they are actually in another state or country. Grandparents should always try to reach their grandchildren with their actual cell phone number to double check the story.

For more information you can trust, visit us at or check us out on  Facebook.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2013, consumers turned to BBB 131 million times for Business Reviews on more than 6.5 million businesses, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Mexico and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.

Paula Fleming is VP of Communications & Marketing for Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT. Find Paula on Google+.

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