Grandparent Scams Get Victims in Their Hearts

If you get a call from someone who claims to be your grandchild in trouble and needing money right away, be wary. Don’t send any money or give any information until you verify the story.

Photo of an older woman talking on the phone and holding her credit card
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Grandparents have special bonds with their grandchildren, and scammers know it. Thieves get money from their victims by exploiting this vulnerability. These victims receive phone calls from people claiming to be their grandchildren, or someone representing them. They say they’ve been in an accident, are under arrest or in trouble in a foreign country and need money fast. But the only urgency is with the scammers, who will sometimes even come to the victim’s home to pick up the money.

The scammers often will work as teams, with some participants in the scheme posing as attorneys or bail bondsmen or medical professionals. Part of the approach includes telling victims not to speak of what happened, keeping them from checking out their stories.

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Senior Retirement Editor,

Elaine Silvestrini has worked for Kiplinger since 2021, serving as senior retirement editor since 2022. Before that, she had an extensive career as a newspaper and online journalist, primarily covering legal issues at the Tampa Tribune and the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey. In more recent years, she's written for several marketing, legal and financial websites, including and, and the newsletters Auto Insurance Report and Property Insurance Report.