‘Help me, Grandma’: New phone scam targets grandparents

Ulster County seniors are warned of phony emergency calls asking grandparents to wire money to help a grandchild who is “in trouble.” According to the Ulster County district attorney’s consumer affairs program, there are several warning signs of the grandparent scam: An urgent call for financial help with an emergency such as a car crash, medical emergency or trouble with the law; a request to send money by wire transfer via Western Union or MoneyGram; and a request to keep the call confidential.

Scam con artists sometimes trick their victims into mentioning names or they might already have information gleaned from social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook. They intentionally try to get their victim confused and anxious and they can be quite accomplished.

The best defense is to be skeptical. Ask questions to verify the caller’s identity. Call parents or other family members. Try and speak with your grandchild. Don’t be rushed. Don’t wire money, which is like sending cash and is impossible to recover. Never give credit card or bank account information over the phone.

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The consumer affairs bureau in the district attorney’s office can be reached at 340-3260.

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