DATCP warns against spring break scam calls

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MADISON, Wis. - With spring break approaching, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is warning families to be aware of family emergency scams, known as “grandparent scams.”

The DATCP said that in a family emergency scam, a scammer calls and impersonates a relative desperately in need of money due to a false emergency. Typically but not exclusively, scammers will target grandparents.

To prevent the success of a family emergency scam, the DATCP suggests that travelers share their itineraries with family members at home and that families develop a plan for dealing with the threat of fake emergency calls.

The DATCP recommends travelers plan regular, quick check-ins with relatives at home throughout their trip and that families establish a code word or phrase to say in the case of a true emergency.

"Consumers are reporting that the scammers have already started making grandparent scam calls in Wisconsin," Michelle Reinen, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said.

"A common theme among those who report failed grandparent scam attempts is that they disregarded the crook's demand for secrecy and immediately made a follow-up call to the grandchild in question or that child's parent.”

If you receive a call that is potentially a scam, the DATCP encourages you to resist the pressure to act quickly and warns against wiring money or providing bank information or credit card numbers to strangers.

If you cannot reach a family member or are unsure of what to do in the instance of a potentially fraudulent phone call, you can call the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-422-7128 or your local police nonemergency line.