“Grandparent” Scam Targeting Seniors Increasingly More Common in Iowa

Have you ever heard of a grandparent scam? Recently, Iowa has experienced an influx in reported grandparent scams, especially in the eastern part of our state. This is where scammers target seniors and manipulate them into believing that their loved ones are in distress and try to play on the persons emotions.

The scammer will often impersonate a grandchild claiming to be arrested, in an accident, or in an urgent financial crisis. They then pressure grandparents to immediately send money using cash, gift cards, wire transfer, Bitcoin, or other methods.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird issued a warning to Iowans about the growing threat of grandparent scams.

Scammers will also introduce a fake law enforcement officer or lawyer to incite more fear and create a sense of legitimacy. According to the Federal Trade Commission, older Americans lost $1.6 billion to fraud in 2022.

To protect against grandparent scams, Iowans should:

  • Be wary of unknown calls: Do not answer calls you do not recognize. If suspicious of a call, hang up and call law enforcement or the Iowa Attorney General’s office.
  • Always double-check: If concerned about whether a story is legitimate, call the loved one at a known number, not a number provided by the caller.
  • Never send money or personal information over the phone: Scammers will always pressure you to send money via methods that cannot be traced or retrieved. Never send money over the phone.
  • Don’t Lie: Scammers will tell you to lie to bank tellers, cashiers, law enforcement, or others. This is a red flag to stop.

If you believe you or someone you know has been targeted by a grandparent scam, report it to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office at 888-777-4590.