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Cons That Bloom in the Spring

Protect yourself from these scams

Grandparents scam

The claim: Your grandchild has been arrested, hospitalized or subjected to some other hardship while off on spring break.

The catch: It's not your grandchild calling.

This widespread scheme that targets older Americans occurs year-round, but with many college-age grandkids away on spring vacations, scammers take particular advantage at this time of year.

Scammers can get names and family details from Facebook, newspaper websites, obits and anniversary announcements, and telephone directories. Then, using your grandchild's name — or saying, "Hi, it's your favorite grandson!" to let you fill in the blanks — the caller claims some vacationing hardship and urgently requests that money be wired to Canada, Mexico or elsewhere for bailout from the alleged crisis.

Your defense: Don't take the bait like thousands of loving grandparents have. If you're not sure, call your grandchild's home or cell number to ask if there's a problem. If the caller claims to be a lawyer, police officer or doctor helping a grandchild in need, a five-minute online search can yield the phone number of the reported law firm, police station or hospital for any call back on your part.

Next: Parking lot scams >>

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