Crime Watch

Feb 25, 2013 12:37 PM by MTN News

Montanans warned not to fall for 'grandparent scam'

Montanans are being warned again about not falling for what is commonly known as the "grandparent scam."

In the grandparent scam, an older person gets a phone call from someone who pretends to be his or her grandchild.

Often the caller is crying, sounds distressed, and may claim to be in a foreign country.

The caller then instructs or even begs the elderly person to wire money as soon as possible and not to tell relatives or friends.

While the entire scenario is fiction (the person's real grandchild is not in trouble), the scammers are very convincing.

Unfortunately, once a trusting grandparent wires money interstate or overseas, it is virtually impossible to trace and recover.

Here are some tips from the Montana Office of Consumer Protection to protect yourself from being scammed:

1. Never give out personal information to someone soliciting it from you over the phone or the internet. Banks will NEVER call and ask for your personal information.

2. Never wire or give money to someone you don't know.

3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Get a security freeze on your credit (go to ConsumerProtection.mt.gov to access forms)

5. Use common sense, trust your gut, and do your due diligence: ask around, talk to others, call us if you have any doubts or questions.

6. Be skeptical, resist high pressure tactics, take your time.

7. Ignore postcards and advertisements for free products, sweepstakes wins, magazine sales, etc... If you did not enter into the lottery or sweepstakes that is contacting you, you did not win.

8. Register with the Federal Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov)

9. Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements. Be alert to small charges which may appear insignificant, but will add up over time.

10. Shred any financial documents or other documents which contain personal information (Social Security numbers, birthdates, personal contact information, bank account or credit card information, etc.)

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