For Immediate Release

Toronto, ON, March 26, 2012 – Grandparents love to receive calls from their grandchildren, but if you hear the words “Grandma, is that you?” at the other end of the line, beware; it may be a scam.

March is Fraud Prevention Month and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is helping Canadians educate and protect themselves against fraud and scams as a member of the Fraud Prevention Forum by working with banks and law enforcement across the country.

Criminals have set their sights on seniors with grandchildren, using a particularly malicious trick known as the “grandparent scam”. A senior will receive a phone call from someone who starts the conversation with, “Grandma? Do you know who this is?” The victim, thinking it’s one of their grandchildren, will respond with, “Yes, I know it’s you (name of grandchild).” The caller will then start using this name to gain credibility with the victim.

The caller will claim to be in trouble and will request money right away. Often they’ll say they were in a car accident with a rental car or they are under arrest and in jail in another city or country. The victim, wanting to help, will withdraw funds from their bank account and wire money to the “grandchild”. The money will be sent through a money transfer service, where the criminal can then pick it up at any location across the world.

The CBA has released a fraud prevention video aimed at educating Canadians about the grandparent scam. The video can be found on the CBA’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/CdnBankers) and the association is also issuing helpful tips and information on its Twitter page and website throughout Fraud Prevention Month.

“It’s important that people know what kind of scams are out there, and how best to avoid them. Criminals will go to great lengths to socially engineer you.” said William J. Crate, Director of Security and Intelligence at the Canadian Bankers Association. “Banks invest a lot of resources in helping fight financial crime. From new chip and PIN technology on payment cards to investigating scams and ensuring safe online banking – banks work hard to protect their customers.”

There are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself from the grandparent scam, including:

  • Never offer information to the caller. If they prompt you with questions like, “Do you know who this is?”, say no and have them tell you.
  • Ask the caller a few personal questions that a real grandchild could answer but an imposter could not.
  • After you hang up, verify the story by calling the parents or other relatives of the “grandchild”.
  • Never wire money to someone under uncertain conditions. It is nearly impossible to recover or trace money that has been wired.

For more information on fraud prevention, check out:
Twitter: @CdnBankers
YouTube: www.youtube.com/CdnBankers
Website: www.cba.ca/fraud

About the Fraud Prevention Forum

The Fraud Prevention Forum is a concerned group of private sector firms, consumer and volunteer groups, government agencies and law enforcement organizations, who are committed to fighting fraud aimed at consumers and businesses. Through its partners, the Forum, which is chaired by the Competition Bureau, works to prevent Canadians from becoming victims of fraud by educating them on how to "Recognize it. Report it. Stop it."

About the Canadian Bankers Association

The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 53 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 267,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness. www.cba.ca. Follow the CBA on Twitter: @CdnBankers

-30-