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North Dakota AARP warns of ‘new twist on grandparent scam’

By Staff | Jul 18, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT The North Dakota AARP recommends checking privacy settings and guarding personal information on social media accounts.

The North Dakota branch of the AARP released a statement Friday warning area seniors of a new twist on a familiar scam.

The statement described the “Grandparent Scam,” in which a caller claiming to be a grandchild calls an elderly person to ask for financial help in a crisis.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has given the scammers an opportunity to add a new way to “get between you and your money,” according to the statement.

The statement read, “Scammers contact grandparents, claiming to be their grandchild or calling on behalf of their grandchild. With a nod to the pandemic, they will explain your grandchild fell ill and was rushing to the hospital and wrecked his car and possibly even hurt someone and is now in jail. They will ask you to send money right away often through a money transfer service or by purchasing gift cards.”

“The phone calls often come late at night when you may be less clear-headed because you are tired or have been sleeping,” the statement added. “The scammers will typically offer just enough detail to make the story seem convincing. They may even hand the phone to another scammer who will claim to be a doctor, police officer or lawyer.”

The statement suggested ways seniors can protect themselves from the scams.

“Ask the caller questions only your grandchild could answer, such as the name of your grandchild’s first pet or where he went to elementary school,” the statement said.

“Hang up and call your grandchild’s phone number or call other family members to see if they can verify the story,” the statement added.

The North Dakota AARP also recommended guarding personal information online.

“One way to prevent scams like this is to check the privacy settings on your social media accounts to make sure only friends and family can see your posts and photos,” the North Dakota AARP added in its statement. “Otherwise, the information scammers can find about you can be used to deceive you in scams just like this.”

The statement added, “If you think you have fallen victim to any type of scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 for guidance and support, or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

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