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Attorney General Bird Warns Iowans of Grandparent Scam

DES MOINES—Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird today issued a warning to Iowans about the growing threat of grandparent scams.

Iowa has experienced an influx in reported grandparent scams, particularly in the Eastern part of the state. Grandparent scams are when scammers target seniors and manipulate them to believe their loved ones are in distress. The scammer will often impersonate a grandchild, claiming to be arrested, in an accident, or in an urgent financial crisis. Grandparents are then pressured to immediately send money using cash, gift cards, wire transfer, Bitcoin, or other methods where the grandparent has no financial safeguards.

Scammers will also introduce a fake law enforcement officer or lawyer to incite more fear and create a sense of legitimacy. According to the Federal Trade Commission, older Americans lost $1.6 billion to fraud in 2022.

“Scammers are lying and manipulative,” said Attorney General Bird. “For a scammer to exploit the bond between a grandparent and their grandchild shows the depths scammers will go to. Older Iowans are often the wealthiest and most trusting among us, and scammers know that. If we are not careful, they will jump at the chance to steal someone’s life savings. But Iowans are smart. By spreading the word and reporting dangerous scams, I know we can catch these scammers red-handed.”

To protect against grandparent scams, Iowans should: 

  • Be wary of unknown calls: Do not answer calls you do not recognize. If suspicious of a call, hang up and call law enforcement or the Iowa Attorney General’s office. 
  • Always double-check: If concerned about whether a story is legitimate, call the loved one at a known number, not a number provided by the caller. 
  • Never send money or personal information over the phone: Scammers will always pressure you to send money via methods that cannot be traced or retrieved. Never send money over the phone. 
  • Don’t Lie: Scammers will tell you to lie to bank tellers, cashiers, law enforcement, or others. This is a red flag to stop.

If you believe you or someone you know has been targeted by a grandparent scam, report it to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office at 888-777-4590, or file a complaint online at: https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-consumers/general-consumer-information/phone-scams/grandparent-scam

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For More Information:

Alyssa Brouillet | Communications Director

(515) 823-9112

alyssa.brouillet@ag.iowa.gov