Skip to main content

Scam Spotlight: Grandparent Scam

Receiving a call from a child or grandchild can brighten anyone’s day; however, when the person on the other end states they are in trouble and needing money, the day can take a drastic turn. One of the most common scams targeting older adults is the “Grandparent Scam”.

The scam starts by a family member, most likely a grandchild, calling you in a panic stating they are in trouble and to “not tell mom or dad”. The person posing as your loved one will ask for money, stating this will help them out of the pickle they are in. They may state they are in jail, are needing to pay a debt, are hospitalized, or stuck in a foreign country. They will often use real names of your family to make the story more realistic, and even scarier, scammers now utilize AI to mimic the sound of your loved one’s voice!

AARP provides Do’s and Don’ts for those who are targeted by these fraudulent schemes:

  • DON’T let your guard down if the caller ID looks familiar. According to the Federal Communications Commission, scammers use technological tricks to make it appear that they’re calling from a trusted number.
  • DON’T trust the sound of their voice. Artificial Intelligence has made it easier for scammers to mimic the sound and cadence of an individual’s voice.
  • DON’T volunteer information — scammers seek facts they can use to make the scam convincing. For example, if they say, “It’s me, grandpa!” don’t say their name. Wait for them to say it.
  • DON’T let a caller hurry you into a choice (most likely giving money).
  • DON’T send cash, wire money, or gift cards to a person alleging to be a grandchild. Scammers favor these payment methods because they’re difficult to trace.
  • DON’T panic, no matter how dire the situation sounds. Swindlers want to upset you to distract you from spotting the scam.

For more information, visit AARP’s website: https://states.aarp.org/iowa/ for more information on scams targeting older adults, or call Aging Resources at 515-255-1310 to speak to an Elder Rights Specialist.

If you do experience this scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 and report it on AARP’s Scam-Tracking Map.