Spring Break is Prime Time for Family Emergency Scam

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Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana Warns Against Scammers That Use Frantic Calls Needing Money to Get Your Child or Grandchild Out of Jail

Spring break is a time when the "Family Emergency Scam" becomes more prevalent. While your children or grandchildren are having fun on spring break, scammers contact you trying to scare you into believing your loved ones are in trouble and need your help – immediately!

BBB Serving Central Indiana is warning parents and grandparents about this scheme as scammers know that many older teens head for fun in the sun this time of year.

Here is how the scam works:

You receive a call from an “authority” claiming to be the police, lawyer, or a hospital representative. They state your child or grandchild is in serious trouble as they have been arrested, mugged, or are in the hospital.

The loved one is in desperate need of money to post bail, receive medical treatment, or avoid jail time. Sometimes the callers attempt to impersonate the child, saying they sound different because of their injuries or because they have a cold. The scammer also asks that you not tell anyone else (mom, dad, or another guardian) because they "would be in so much trouble."

You are told to wire transfer money right away to avoid a night in jail or to pay for the medical bill, lawyer’s fees, fix a car, etc. Panic sets in because you believe your loved one is in jeopardy and send the money. The scammers now have your money, and you realize that nothing ever really happened to your child or grandchildren.

BBB Serving Central Indiana offers the following tips for avoiding this type of scam:

  •     Remain Calm: Scammers rely on you becoming emotional and making a quick decision. Don’t give into high-pressure tactics about needing to act immediately.
  •     Let the caller know you will call them back. If you are suspicious of the call let the caller know that you will call them right back and hang up! Contact your loved one through a phone number you know to be theirs. If there are still questions, contact other family members to discuss the situation and find out more information.
  •     Ask Questions: But make certain not to reveal too much personal information. If a caller says "It's me, Grandma!" don't respond with a name, instead let the caller explain who he or she is.
  •     Create a Family Password: Some families have an emergency “password” that only the family knows.
  •     Do Not Wire Money: Wiring money is nearly impossible to trace. If you are asked to wire transfer money inquire why they do not accept other forms of payment.
  •     Know Travel Plans: Have your children checking in periodically, even if it only to send a text. Know where they are traveling and how to get reach them.

For more information, please contact BBB at info(at)indybbb.org or 1-866-463-9222.

About BBB® Serving Central Indiana

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Central Indiana was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties in Central Indiana

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