It could happen to anyone. Protect your money and identity by reading our scam prevention tips here.
My grandparents were brutally scammed the other week.
They received a call from a jail telling them that their granddaughter (aka: me) had been pulled over in Mexico. They had found drugs in the car, and I was now in custody. They put a crying girl on the phone that went by my name and sounded like me. The hysteria in her voice helped to mask that she was a stranger to them. Next, they put a lawyer on the phone, who aggressively told them to wire him money for my bail. The girl was put back on the phone and begged them not to tell my mother or father with tears in her voice.
I don’t talk to my grandparents as often as I should, so for all they knew, maybe I was vacationing in Mexico. What they did know is that a girl who was claiming to be me was hysterical with fear in a Mexican jail, and only they had the power to get “me” out.
So, my 82-year old grandfather got in the car and went to wire them $2,000. It was a scam. I wasn’t in Mexico. I was at work, going about my day as usual. These scammers knew my name, my grandparents’ names, where we all were from and more.
My grandparents won’t be getting that money back. It’s gone.
Scary stuff, right? Scammers have an easy time digging up information on people now, thanks to social media, among other things. We sometimes forget that everything we put on the internet can be made public: our name, relationships, hobbies, where we hangout, etc.
So, how could this situation have been avoided?
My grandparents should have asked for the name of the jail and its address. Most of the time, scammers haven’t thought out this information. If they provide you with a name and location, you then google the information they’ve given you and call the location to verify the information.
Never give out your personal information over the phone to someone that has called you or through email. Most businesses, including credit cards, banks, loan companies and more, will never call or email you to ask for things like your social security number. Know that you can always hang up the phone and call your credit card or a business location directly, to verify that they were the ones that indeed called you.
Be careful and be suspicious when it comes to giving out private information about yourself. If you think your identity is at risk or may have already been compromised, visit IdentityTheft.gov, the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. Stay safe, friends!
Until the next time around,