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While We’re on the Subject of Grandparents….

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(photo: Getty Images)

It’s not enough that grandparents are conned in Emergency Scams. Scam artists are also robbing grandparents with fraudulent debt collection schemes. The M.O. of this call is similar to the Emergency Scam, but with a twist.

According to the FTC, instead of claiming that a grandchild has been in an accident or has been detained on a traffic violation, the scammer will claim that a family member owes a debt. The caller will also threaten heavy penalties or even arrest that family member unless the grandparent pays the alleged debt immediately by – you guessed it – wire transfer.

Here’s What to Do If You or a Family Member Receives a Call Like This:

  • Ask the debt collector to provide official “validation notice” of the debt. Debt collectors are required by law to provide the information in writing. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and a statement of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the self-proclaimed collector won’t provide the information, hang up.
  • If you think that a caller may be a fake, ask for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Then, confirm that the collection agency is real.
  • Turn the tables on the caller. Ask for the last four digits of your family member’s Social Security Number. If they provide that information, then you know it’s a scam. Legitimate debt collectors are not allowed to share personally identifiable information of any sort with a third party. In fact, they are not allowed to even say that the person has a debt.
  • Do not provide or confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you have verified the call.
  • Tell your loved one to place a fraud alert on his/her credit report. If scammers have information like your name, relationship and phone number, they probably have a lot more.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if the caller uses threats. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collections from being abusive, unfair or deceptive.

Source:, BBB North Alabama, The Simple Dollar, and United States Federal Trade Commission, – not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403.

BBB New Release: While We’re on the Subject of Grandparents….

For more information, go to Attention Grandparents: Watch out for phony debt collectors and Expose a Fake Debt Collector by Asking These Three Questions.

To report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. Find trustworthy businesses at