The Fake Accident
In this scam, a caller attempts to convince you they are a family member who has just been in a serious accident and needs immediate medical funds. The scammer may seem distressed or be in tears in order to confuse their target, before claiming to have incurred bills from the “accident” and requesting the target wire them cash.
My own grandmother was targeted by this scam. The caller contacted her, claiming to be me (they even looked up my name before contacting her). After telling my grandmother her grandson had recently gotten into a car crash, the caller then requested she transfer him $20,000. The caller went on to express embarrassment at the whole situation, insisting that my grandmother not tell other family members about the incident.
Pretty convincing, right?
How to Avoid It
Your personal information is private for a reason, and your bank, credit card company, insurance provider, and doctor will never ask for it over the phone or email. Asking for this information is illegal and a sign of a scam. Be sure to ask these callers for specific family information beyond names; a scammer will not be able to answer.
In my grandmother’s case, she contacted my father and asked if I was all right. My father then called me and learned that I was having a lovely time camping in Joshua Tree National Park — no accidents here!