Voice of the consumer: Secret code can thwart kidnapping scam

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (The Gazette) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

When your loved one calls in need of something, your first instinct is to help out. The problem is scammers are taking advantage of your big heart in a terrifying way.

We have warned you before about the grandparent scam, which is similar to the kidnapping scam. Scammers call claiming to be a family member in need of help and money. We’ve talked to several victims.

One Colorado Springs man lost thousands of dollars while trying to help his grandson.

“This guy sounded just like my grandson,” said the grandpa, who wanted to remain anonymous. “I took the phone and he said, ‘Grandpa I had an accident. I’m not hurt, everybody’s OK, but I damaged the car and I need to borrow $4,000.’”

The man bought gift cards and read them over the phone to the scammers. “My daughter came in afterwards and said ‘You just got burned, Dad. That was a scam.’”

After that ordeal, he and his family came up with a password to verify they’re really talking with each other on the phone. This is a great idea, and I would recommend your family come up with a secret code, too. All of the family members know the password and if the caller doesn’t know it, they hang up the phone.