There’s the call we all dread. A family member is in trouble – or worse, hurt. Thieves claiming to be from the Red Cross made calls to relatives of military members. They told the relatives that their loved ones had been injured in the line of duty and that they needed to verify some personal information in order to assist the injured person. The natural inclination is to do whatever needs to be done to help. You’re so distressed and panicked that you won’t necessarily think twice about giving them Social Security numbers, credit card details, whatever they ask for. After all, they know Brian’s name, they know you’re his emergency contact, they know where he’s stationed.
Later, thinking about the call, it might strike you as strange that the Red Cross would need to ask you for that information. Surely the military already has it. That’s when you call Brian and he tells you he’s fine and by the way, could you send him more Captain Crunch? Well, you could, if someone hadn’t emptied your bank account.
Similarly, in the grandparent scam, seniors receive a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild. Sometimes the person will identify themselves by name; other times they’ll fish for the information by saying, “Grandma?” and waiting for Grandma to provide the name. “Jason, is that you?” Either way, the upshot of it is that Jason is in big time trouble. He’s in a Turkish prison and needs bail money. If he doesn’t get it pronto, he’s going to suffer grievous bodily harm. Grandma’s not that surprised, because, let’s be honest, Jason was always kind of a problem child, but he is her grandson. Off goes $11,000 in savings.