As long as there is evil in the world, there will be scammers preying on the scared and weak to con easy money from them. Over the past few years, there has been a slew of scammers that specifically targets parents, whether it’s to sell them an unbelievable offer or to threaten jail time and death. Here are three common scams to look out for next time an unknown number calls.
Virtual Kidnapping Scams
Parents across the country are receiving calls that their children have been kidnapped from numbers that demand a ransom in return for their safety. A child kidnapping is a parent’s worst nightmare, and most of the victims are too scared to take the risk that it might not be true.
According to the Associated Press, the scammers claim to the know the child’s name and sometimes have muffled screams in the background as proof. They demand between $600 and $1,900 to release the child. They threaten to kill the child if the parent doesn’t pay. If you do get a call like this, confirm through a verifiable source that your child is okay, and then report the number to the police. Never agree to pay a ransom without police involvement first.
College Debt Relief Scams
Most scammers target people based on a particular demographic, so if you’re a few years out of college you might still be getting college debt relief scam calls. The caller offers ways to consolidate debt, forgive it, or postpone your payments until a later date.
If you’re a new parent worrying how you’re going to cover the cost of cribs and diapers, then debt forgiveness might sound like a really nice option. However, you can see right through these college debt scams when they ask you to pay a fee for relief. You can typically get the same services free through your bank. If anyone calls with an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
While this scam most often targets the elderly, parents of college-age children have been targeted as well. The called claims to be the child, grandchild, or close relative of the victim and beg for their help. They might say they’re stranded, in prison, or in need of money. The caller then asks the victim to wire the money to an unknown account. Some callers even try to mimic the voices of these relatives if they can to make them seem more believable.
Never wire money to anyone unless you can confirm their identity and location, especially if they’re an unknown in a strange situation. Furthermore, if you’re suspicious about a caller, keep asking questions. Many scammers will start out calm and then get angry — resorting to threats that give them away.
These are just a few scams that are working their way through America this year. As they gain more traction, they tend to fade away, and others take their place. By staying alert, questioning strange calls, and waiting to react whenever money is involved, you will defeat 99 percent of scammers who try to con you.