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Don’t Get Caught in an Emergency Scam!

Don’t Get Caught in an Emergency Scam!

Your grandson’s calling – and he’s in bigtime trouble! He’s been kidnapped and being held for ransom, so he needs you to wire over money ASAP.


Before you wire over anything, stop! You’re probably being scammed. Here’s what you need to know about emergency scams and how to protect yourself.


How the scams play out


In an emergency scam, a target gets a phone call, email or text message pretending to be a close relative. The caller will claim to have been caught in hot water, which can be anything: a kidnapping, an issue with the police, a car accident or getting stuck overseas with no money.


The caller will then ask the target to send over money pronto, using a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. While emergency scams are commonly played out with a grandparent of an alleged caller, they can also target the parents, uncles, aunts and siblings of the “caller.”


Unfortunately, if the target follows the caller’s directions by sending over money, these funds will go into the scammer’s pockets. 


Red flags


Here are some signs that can alert you to the possibility of an emergency scam:


  • Your “relative” calls to tell you about an emergency situation they’re in, but they ask you not share this information with family members or anyone else.

  • You’re urged to act quickly.

  • You’re asked to send money by a wire transfer, prepaid gift card or cryptocurrency. 

  • You’re asked to share sensitive information over the phone.


Protect yourself


Follow these tips to help keep yourself safe from emergency scams:


  • If a friend or family member calls you with an urgent request for funds, hang up and call them directly from a number they’ll recognize. 

  • Never wire money or send a prepaid gift card to an unverified contact. 

  • Ask an alleged caller some questions about your shared memories to determine if they actually are who they claim to be.

  • Always be cautious and avoid acting rashly regardless of the situation.

  • Don’t share your personal info with an unknown contact. 

  • Don’t be afraid to share details of a phone call with other family members and friends.


Stay safe!

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