Attention Grandparents: Watch out for phony debt collectors

My grandma kept an eye out for cheaters. (No, not that kind.) Back in the day, if a salesman knocked on her front door, she waved them off. Before caller ID, she hung up on telemarketers. But a call from a phony debt collector? She might have fallen for that one. Especially if the debt collector said she was responsible for her grandchild’s debt. 

Here’s what’s happening: A fake debt collector calls you. They want to collect on a debt your grandchild (supposedly) failed to pay. They ask you to wire money, send a prepaid card or give your credit card number – immediately. And if you won’t – or can’t – pay? That’s when the threats begin:

“Your grandchild will be arrested.”
“He’ll lose his job.”
“We’ll suspend her driver’s license.”

Unless you co-signed a loan, you’re never responsible for someone else’s debt. In fact, debt collectors can’t legally tell you that someone – anyone – else even has a debt.

If you get one of these calls, stop. Don’t be rushed into sending money. Don’t verify any personal or financial information. And hang up if the caller threatens you. Debt collectors can’t do that. It’s not legal. Once you’re off the phone, report the call to the FTC.

Want more? Read our tips on how to avoid family emergency scams. And check out Pass It On, our campaign that encourages older adults to talk to others about avoiding scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I raised my children to be self sufficient and I am sure they have taught their children to be the same. I would never get caught in this scheme.

Thanks for the information given to us for scammers, keep us informed, God bless you. Ersal S Baydar

Thank you for this service. A short time ago we lost about $3000.00 to a grandparents scam. (You have the report). I wish I had seen this prior to that scam phone call. Our local police had the story printed in our hometown newspaper, (without using our names), as they take scams seriously too.

It would be helpful to include the phone number for the FTC.

You can report the call to the FTC using the link in the blog post, or by calling 10877-FTC-HELP.

just got another call not from paying someone's else debit,these dam,computer scammers my forth one this week from the same,so call company 1-661-380-4001 an many numbers across the top of my caller ID,V07100955360077 at 12:26 pm today.will thet ever STOP?

thank you,,,,that is sure a big help....

Good idea. Why not send to list of retirement communities.

Thank you for sending me this. I'm getting a lot of emails that say I have several million dollars and I have to pay money to get it. Please have someone to advise me. Thank you

As a co-signer for our grand daughter's college tuition, we do not understand the Pros & Cons of such a commitment. Can you explain this, please?


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