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Whether it’s a spare can of cranberry sauce or an extra turkey platter, thoughtful Thanksgiving hosts make contingency plans for the holiday. This year, if the dinner discussion veers into controversial territory – like the pumpkin pie vs. pecan pie debate – here’s a suggested topic of conversation you can have at the ready.

Some people call them “grandparent scams,” but it’s any form of fraud where a scammer impersonates a family member and calls with an urgent plea for emergency cash supposedly to get medical care, pay for bail, or extricate themselves from a dangerous situation. The scammer’s goal is to trick the concerned relative into sending money before they’ve had a chance to think things through.

With grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered around the table, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to warn your family about this form of fraud. The best response to calls of this kind is to resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story may be. Take the time to investigate whether there really is an emergency. Call the relative at a number you know to be genuine and check the story out with another trusted family member even if (especially if) the caller begs for confidentiality.

Con artists are cagey and have a variety of stock responses to family members’ suspicions – “I know I don’t sound like myself, Grandpa. I’m in the hospital with a broken nose.” or “Don’t tell Mom. Let’s keep this our secret.” Another tactic favored by fraudsters: trying to “sell” the story by enlisting a fellow crook to impersonate a doctor, lawyer, or police officer.

One tip-off that fraud is afoot is an insistence on getting money immediately. Scammers are partial to payment by wire and we warned you recently about their growing fondness for payment by gift cards. This Thanksgiving before anyone leaves the table, make sure they know that no one in your family will ever call with an emergency request that they immediately wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash.

Report this form of fraud and any other suspected rip-off to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

Tagged with: imposter
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

JUST GOT A HELLO GRANDPA CALL THIS MORNING AND I KNEW IT WAS A FRAUD CALL BECAUSE MY GRANDKIDS CALL ME GRAMPS..I TOLD THE FRAUDSTER TO WAKE UP AND GET A REAL JOB INSTEAD OF TRYING TO SCAM PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY I TOLD HIM TO GO TO WORK AND CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING TO THE COUNTRY INSTEAD OF LEECHING OFF OTHER PEOPLE AND BECOMING A LIABILITY TO THE COUNTRY!!

One thing to do is to think about the issue at hand.First off ask the proposed benefactor of your money THEIR phone number rarely do they have a number to call.In that routine you have cut off in most cases any more calls from that person.

This happened to my husband's elderly father a few years ago regarding a nephew. Thankfully his bank and the place he went in order to wire the money refused to help him. He went home to call his sister and was informed that her son wasn't in Mexico. In fact, he was with her in their home.

Families could invent a code word or phrase for all members to use in case of emergency. That way, if anyone calls and does NOT use this word or phrase, the other family member knows that it is probably a fraud.

Had it happen to us. Sent $2500 before my cooler sister helped me end it. Finally called grandson at his number and there he was! Knew it wouldn't do any good, but reported it to the police. Felt like a fool. Also, though money lost was, of course, missed, finding grandson to actually be okay was worht all the treasure on Earth!

About a month ago, my in-laws received a fake call from someone claiming to be my youngest son who needed bail money to get out of a mexican prison. However, his quick thinking 90 year old Grandfather, asked for the caller to give his mothers (my) first name. The caller immediately hung up.

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