Viktoria Jurkovic with the Ohio Department of Commerce said a con artist calls, hoping to reach a senior citizen who is in fact a grandparent, claims to be their grandchild and convinces them to wire money. “The key thing with grandparent scams, or scams that affect the elderly, is really understanding how they become vulnerable to these types of scams,” said Jurkovic.
According to The Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, it’s a generational issue, and scammers use that to their advantage. “They really prey on that trust that an older consumer may have,” said Judy Dollison, President of the BBB of Central Ohio. “But honestly, there are so many scams that really specifically target seniors, that’s just one of many.”
Jurkovic said issues with peer-to-peer payment apps, wire fraud, and phishing attempts are also problematic. Further proof of that, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center recently released a warning about an uptick in technical support scams targeting older adults.
“Our elderly are becoming more tech saavy,” Jurkovic said. “They’re owning cellphones, they’re using the computer more, and they don’t have guidance from their friends and family to kind of tell them, ‘Here’s some things you need to think about when you’re going to use the computer to shop.'”
So, how do we prevent it? “Never fall for that sense of urgency,” Dollison said. “In all scams, they’re trying to get you to act before you pick up the phone and call your grandchild. You know their number. Just find out for sure if they are really in trouble. So, in all situations, take a step back, talk to your loved ones.”
And Jurkovic said open dialogue with your elderly loved ones is key. “Understanding what they’re doing, even having a day-to-day conversation with them as to when they’re going to the bank and why they’re going to the bank,” said Jurkovic. “Asking those questions and listening to what they have to say is key to really understanding if something’s happening that you’re not knowledgable about.”
Just remember, if someone reaches out to you first, hang up and call them back on your own. The BBB of Central Ohio offers additional information and tips for seniors here.