(HELENA) When scammers aren’t thinking of new ways to get your money, they recycle or update an old scam.
The “grandparents” scam, otherwise known as the “Emergency” scam, has been expanded from just a late night phone call plea for quick cash to now include a social media demand for money for a fake emergency.
The scam works like this: You receive a phone call or text or instant message from a scammer posing as a relative, a friend or maybe event a school former classmate. They say they are having an emergency; either they claim they’ve been arrested, robbed or injured.
They usually claim the incident has happened in foreign county, and they need you to send them money, by wire, money gram, or an iTunes or Amazon gift card. They claim they need that money now.
Experts warn people to not give in to the false sense of urgency and send money.
The first thing to do is confirm the person’s identity and confirm that a real emergency exists.
Marcus Meyer, an investigator with the Montana Officer of Consumer Protection, said, “If you think that it’s suspicious, or you don’t trust the person, end the conversation. Either don’t reply to the messages that they’re sending you or hang up the phone. And if people have other questions, they can contact law enforcement or they can contact the Office of Consumer Protection.”
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
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 (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, birth dates, personal contact information, bank account or credit card information, etc.)
For more information, contact the Montana Office of Consumer Protection at: 1-800-481-6896 or firstname.lastname@example.org.