A common phone scam occurs when a person claims they have a son, daughter, or grandchild held hostage and demands a credit card number or gift card to prevent harm to the hostage. The scammers are good at getting names of your children or grandchildren and making you believe they are in danger.
The best defense to this crime is to contact your loved on via text or on another phone. If they should be in school, contact the school to confirm they are there.
This scam works because they put pressure on the victim and attempt to force a quick decision by threats and intimidation. This is a common fraud trick so slow things down and take the time to verify before releasing information or payment.
Many experts recommend that families have a “Code Word” to use when they are in trouble or to confirm they have been taken. If the scammer can’t confirm the code word, then they do not have your family member held hostage.
Another variation of this crime is when the scammer attempts to get payments from grandparents to bail the grandchildren out of jail or out of a hospital in a foreign country. They claim they can’t call their parents because they will be in trouble or embarrassed.
These calls can be received late at night after the person has gone to bed. The scammers know grandparents will not be as alert and are more likely to release funds. The scammer will be whispering to make it harder for you to hear. They will say something like “This is your grandson”. Most people will use their grandsons name and the scammer will then know it and claim they need help immediately.
Remember that you can’t trust the caller ID number or name that appear during phone calls. Both the name and phone number can be spoofed!