Portland police warn of gift card ‘grandparent scam’ - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland police warn of gift card ‘grandparent scam’

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The Portland Police Bureau is warning community members to watch out for a scam targeting seniors and others in the community.

This “grandparent scam” involves a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild in distress, in trouble with law enforcement, stuck in a different country or having just had an accident.

Often the calls come late at night, with the callers asking for immediate transfers of money. The PPB noted that some scammers are also hacking social media accounts in order to reach out to residents as well.

Earlier this year, a Hillsboro couple said they were taken for $11,000 by this type of scam. In that case, a person called claiming to be a police sergeant saying their son had been arrested. The "sergeant" let the couple talk to someone they thought was their son, which convinced them to send the money. 

Police note that a recent twist on the scam is callers asking people to send cash and iTunes gift cards to be used as bail.

The PPB offered tips for for residents to help avoid becoming victims of these scams:

  • Don’t send money, prepaid cash cards or gift cards out of the country to unknown people or agencies
  • Residents should be skeptical of callers making these requests, and should ask questions only close family would know, without revealing personal information.
  • Verify any information given by checking with other family members as to the location of the supposed callers.
  • Regularly check and update the privacy settings on social media accounts. Police warn that scammers will scan through accounts that are not secure to find personal information to use against people.
  • Anyone that falls victim to this type of scam needs to know that it should be reported to local law enforcement, as well as the Oregon Attorney General's Office.

To learn more about this scam, visit the Federal Trade Commission Scam Alert website at Consumer.FTC.gov/Scam-Alerts.

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