The Grandparent Scam: How to Protect Yourself

Date: March 16, 2023

Imagine your phone rings late one evening. The person on the other end says they are your grandchild, something terrible has happened, and they urgently need money.

Although you would do anything for your grandchildren, receiving a call like this means you could be the target of a “Grandparent Scam,” and it is important to confirm the information before jumping into action.

Read on to learn more about this scam and how to avoid becoming their next victim.


What is the Grandparent Scam?

The grandparent scam typically works by a phone call to the senior, and the caller claims to be the grandchild of the person who answers. The caller, who typically sounds distressed, may try any of these tactics:

  • Claim to be a law enforcement official, lawyer or impersonate the grandchild/family member.
  • Use urgency and threats to convince you to take out money.
  • Claim that there is a “gag order” preventing you from speaking about the situation.

The caller may also plead with the ‘grandparent’ not to tell anyone. “Please don’t tell my mom, Grandma – she’ll be so upset.”

Fraudsters can target victims through the grandparent scam by phone call, email and text message, with many using details from Facebook or other social media to make their stories more believable. Fraudsters may request an electronic transfer of funds or offer to visit your home to pick up funds.


How to Prevent Being Defrauded

  • Hang up and DO NOT provide any information to the caller.
  • If the caller claims to be a law enforcement official, hang up and call your local police directly, using a phone number from a reputable source – not one provided by the caller.
  • Do not send money to the caller, and do not give the caller your address.
  • Call your family members right away, especially the family member in question.
  • Report this information to the police.
  • Tell your friends and family to help prevent others from being scammed.


Ask Questions, Don’t Answer Them

These types of fraud calls trick the victim into providing information, which the fraudster then uses against the victim. Make sure you are not offering names or confirming details that the fraudsters are prompting you to provide. If they are who they say they are, they will be able to answer your questions.

Always Be Wary

Any caller asking for your personal information over the phone, or is demanding action in a very short timeframe, should make you suspicious. If the caller claims to be a law enforcement official, hang up and call your local police directly using a phone number from a reputable source – not one provided by the suspected fraudster. Do not use the phone number given to you by the fraudster to confirm legitimacy.

Protect Yourself

Be mindful of what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media, such as family names and locations, to further convince you that what they are saying is real.

Report It

If you think you or someone you know has fallen victim to a grandparent scam, report it immediately to your local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you believe that your Westoba accounts may have been compromised, please reach out to us immediately at 1-877-WESTOBA.


Click here for a Printable PDF of this article

Discover more tips for protecting yourself from fraudulent activity.

Learn More