Though it doesn’t get as much attention as Mother’s and Father’s Days, Grandparents' Day is celebrated the second Sunday in September. This year, we're encouraging grandparents and all older adults to be aware of a popular scam referred to as a “grandparent” or “person in need” scam. This type of scam happens when a fraudster calls or emails you and pretends to be your grandchild, relative or friend. Often they claim to be in trouble—usually in jail or stranded in a foreign country—and in need of money right away.
This is one of many types of imposter scams where a thief hopes to stir up your emotions and con you into sending money or gift cards. They usually beg you to keep their call a secret and encourage you to act fast before you have time to question if they’re really the person they claim to be.
Is it really your loved one, or is it an imposter?
Here's what to do if you're not sure:
- Don’t panic! Take a deep breath and get the facts.
- Don’t send money unless you’re sure it’s the real person who contacted you. Hang up and call your grandchild or friend’s phone number to see if the story checks out. You could also call a different friend or relative to confirm the facts.
- Is the person asking for gift cards? This is a sign that it may be a scam, since when someone is really in need, gift cards usually won’t help.
Spread the word about grandparent scams and report them
Here's how you can do your part:
- Check out our new fraud prevention placemat to help you avoid “grandparent” or “person in need” scams. You can of the placemat to use at a meal site, or to share with friends and family. The placemat is available in English and for bulk orders.
- Talk about it! You have probably heard of this type of scam or know someone who has received one of these calls or emails. Share the message with others to make them aware of this type of scam and how they can protect themselves.
- Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.