CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office is urging West Virginians to be wary of scam calls this holiday season, especially those targeting senior citizens.

Often referred to as the “‘Grandparent Scam,” a commonly reported scam involves the scammers calling their targets, often senior citizens, pretending to be their grandchild or another loved one and claiming they are stuck in another state or country and in urgent need of money for an “emergency.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says with the holiday travel season in full swing, the scammers may become more active because of the increased chance the target’s loved ones may, in fact, be traveling for the holidays.

Another version of the scam involves the scammers pretending to be law enforcement claiming they have news about a loved one or that the loved one is in trouble. Morrisey says the scammers rely on grandparents’ goodwill and instinct to protect their grandchildren from potential punishment.

“Most grandparents would do anything to help a grandchild in trouble because they are incredibly generous to family members in need,” Morrisey said. “That’s why it’s so important to exercise caution when receiving such calls. Think carefully before handing over money in these situations.”

According to Morrisey’s office, some tips to avoid falling victim to these scams include:

  • Stay calm if you do receive one of these calls and don’t make an immediate reaction.
  • Get a call back number from the caller.
  • Contact your loved one through the phone number you know they use or contact other relatives to find out if there really is an emergency.
  • Ask questions only your loved one would be able to answer, such as a pet’s name, a nickname, their school or any information only you and your loved one would know.
  • Never give anyone bank routing numbers or credit card numbers over the phone.
  • Be skeptical of any request for wire transfers or use of a prepaid debit card, regardless of who the caller tells you they are.

Anyone who believes they or someone they know have been a victim of “Grandparent Scams” should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or at the WVAG’s website.