6 Tips To Avoid Family Emergency Scams

It’s heartbreaking when a family member is in trouble and needs help. You suddenly get caught off guard and don’t know what to do. You start panicking and want to help your loved one as quickly as possible. And that’s what scammers are waiting for! They call you pretending to be your relative (or on behalf of your relative) and say they are in trouble and need money. It can be anything from a car accident to your family member being “arrested”. That’s why it’s important to be aware of family emergency scams. These scams use emotional manipulation to con people out of money, so it’s necessary to be on guard against them. 

Fortunately, there are some tips you can follow to protect yourself. 

Verify the emergency

If your family member claims to be in an emergency, take steps to verify the claim’s authenticity. The best way to do this is to contact your relative and ask what’s happening. If they don’t respond, reach out to other family members who may be aware of the situation. 

Ask questions about the specifics of the emergency, and ensure you get answers consistent with what your relative (or someone pretending to be them) is telling you. If they say that they got in a car accident, ask them at which hospital they are in now. If they start changing the subject, hang up the phone. Don’t hesitate to contact the authorities if something seems off or out of place.

Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers

One of the best ways to avoid falling victim to family emergency scams is to ignore calls from unknown numbers. This could be a scammer trying to get information from you or attempting to steal your money. If the call is from a legitimate source, they usually leave a message, and you can then call them back. 

If you answer the call, don’t provide any personal or financial information over the phone. If the person on the other line isn’t offering any information about why they’re calling and doesn’t leave a message, it’s best to hang up and ignore them. Be aware of these tactics, and don’t let them scare you into answering their calls. 

Always remember that if someone is calling you on behalf of your family member, they should provide you some form of identification, such as their full name or address.

Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for personal information

If someone contacts you and asks for your personal information, be wary. Scammers often ask for personal information such as a credit card number, address, or Social Security number. This should raise red flags that something isn’t right. 

Always be cautious when someone contacts you out of the blue and asks for personal information. Why would your family member need this? If they were actually in trouble, they would probably just ask you to pick them up or come see them. Think twice before telling anyone anything personal.

By being suspicious of unsolicited requests for personal information, you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam that many people, unfortunately, fall prey to.

Verify the identity of the caller before taking action

In a world full of scammers, it’s necessary to learn to protect yourself and your finances. To do this, you should always verify the person’s identity before acting. 

If you receive an email, text, or phone call from someone claiming to be your family member needing assistance, try to contact them through other means to ensure it’s actually them. You should also ask for specific information from them, such as their address or birthdate. But it’s better to ask questions that only they know, such as the names of their pets, what you did together last year on Christmas, or anything personal that only you two know. If they cannot provide this information, it’s most likely a scam.

In addition, if you receive any suspicious texts or calls, use PhoneHistory to check who is that person on the other end. You can also install Truecaller, an app that blocks calls from spammers or any suspicious numbers.

Don’t open attachments in unsolicited emails

Phishing scams are scams where cyber criminals attempt to acquire your personal and financial information. They do this by sending emails or pop-up messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, or if it’s a family emegercy scam, the email can be from your “relative”. These messages often contain malicious links or attachments that could infect your computer with malware, steal your data, or even lock up your files.

When you receive an email from an unfamiliar email address, it’s important to be cautious. If you need clarification on whether the email is legitimate, search for the sender’s email address online. If no reliable information is available, it’s best to delete the message they sent you and not take any further action. It’s also a good idea to keep your anti-virus and anti-malware software up-to-date, as this will help protect you from malicious emails.

If your relative is in trouble, ask yourself: “Why would they reach out to me via email?” If they never did and now they suddenly start emailing you, it’s a huge sign that it’s not them. 

If you suspect that you have already fallen victim to a phishing scam, change all your passwords and check your financial accounts. Finally, report any suspicious activity to the authorities so they can investigate further.

Don’t wire money to someone you’re unsure about

It can be tempting to send money to a family member who claims to be in a desperate situation, especially if it’s someone you care about. But it’s important to remember that scammers frequently target individuals requesting money or information. 

If someone you’re unsure about is asking you to wire money, it’s crucial to take the time to ask questions and be wary if they seem hesitant or unwilling to provide any personal details.

Additionally, ensure the recipient has a secure way to receive the money, such as through a bank transfer or mobile payment system. 

No matter how much money you’re sending, always take the time to verify the recipient’s identity. Transfering money to someone you don’t know can put you at risk of being scammed, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

To wrap up

Family emergency scams can be incredibly convincing, especially if you care about people who are probably in trouble. You act fast without thinking, which is a huge mistake. Remember that even if someone is in a desperate situation, the last thing they should ask for is money. At first, they need to say what happened, where they are (hospital, police station, etc.), and only then ask for financial help if needed. Don’t let scammers fool you.