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HONESDALE -- The holidays are a time for reconnecting with family members, near and far. Unfortunately, it can also be a time when scam artists prey on a family’s emotions to make a quick buck.
As people begin reaching out to family members to make travel arrangements and plans to gather, Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann and Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne want to remind Pennsylvanians of all ages to be aware of the latest twists in the “Grandparent Scam” and offers tips on how to avoid being a victim.
“With the holiday season upon us, scam artists will undoubtedly increase their efforts to take advantage of individuals – particularly senior citizens – preying on emotional connections to commit fraud,” said Wiessmann. “We urge all citizens across the commonwealth, regardless of age, to exercise serious caution before sending any money across state or international borders.”
The typical version of the scam involves a senior citizen receiving a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild who is in serious trouble and needs their grandparent to send money very quickly without conferring with any other family members or authorities. The success of the scam hinges on the recipient’s sense of familial obligation and willingness to help, along with the pressure of the request requiring immediate action.
“Every year older Pennsylvanians are targeted by scammers and con artists who attempt to steal money by exploiting grandparents’ love for their grandchildren,” said Osborne. “The Wolf administration urges all Pennsylvanians to be on the alert for this scam and encourages seniors, in particular, to follow our tips and never hesitate to simply hang up the phone if you receive a call demanding money be sent right away.”
Osborne also notes that older adults often do not realize they have been scammed or do not know who to report it to. In other cases, they may be too ashamed or embarrassed to report it, in part because they worry that their relatives or friends will think that they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
Secretaries Wiessmann and Osborne point to steps you can take to protect yourself from being the victim of the “Grandparent Scam”:
The Department of Aging encourages any person who believes that an older adult is being financially exploited to file a confidential report with any Area Agency on Aging. You can also call the statewide abuse hotline at 800-490-8505.
Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products.