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BBB Warns About Emergency Scams

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about "emergency scams" or "grandparent scams," where fraudsters impersonate family members or friends to extract money. These scams prey on people's concern for their loved ones by sending urgent calls, voicemails, or text messages that appear to come from someone they know. The scammers often use AI-generated voices or voice cloning techniques, making it difficult to distinguish between real and fake messages.

A notable example occurred in Hazelwood, MO, where a scammer pretended to be a grandson in trouble, needing bail money. The older adult, almost deceived, called the supposed attorney, only to find it was the same scammer. Fortunately, the caretaker intervened and verified the grandson's safety, preventing a financial loss.

To protect yourself, stop and think before reacting to urgent messages. Ask questions only the real person would know, and always double-check the source by contacting the supposed caller directly. Be cautious with your online information and keep social media profiles private. Trust your instincts and avoid sending money through untraceable methods like payment apps, prepaid gift cards, or wire transfers. If someone claims they will come to your home to collect money, do not answer the door and call the police immediately.

The BBB reported nearly 200 instances of this scam in 2023, with a median loss of about $850. Stay vigilant and safeguard yourself and your loved ones from these sophisticated scams.

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