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Health & Safety

A Terrifying Scam Phone Call


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Dear Parents,

We're sharing the story of a very scary phone scam that happened to our company president recently. A similar scam was highlighted by CBS Minnesota News. We're also passing along some safety tips at the end of this post.

Please be on alert for a  scammer who will call from an unknown number, most likely showing your local area code. The initial caller may sound like your son or daughter crying out that they were in a car accident and need your help.

In the case of our company president, the caller sounded like her daughter who is 1,500 miles away at college in California, and the daughter was crying that she had been in a car accident. It sounded convincing. Here's what CollegiateParent's president shared: "And then a male took over the call stating that he was with law enforcement, and that he picked her up on the side of the road, and that he had her in his van. The following things he said were terrifying at which point I told him I was having trouble with the connection and put him on mute to buy time and get my husband involved."

The next ten minutes were an adrenaline rush as they searched their daughter's location via their Find My Friends phone app. Next they called and texted their daughter's roommates because their daughter was not answering her phone. Fortunately they were able to confirm that their daughter was asleep in her bed and they were dealing with a scammer.

Afterwards, they realized that the scammer had also called the dad's cell phone; it was clearly a well-plotted scam. Unfortunately for the woman highlighted by CBS Minnesota last week, the distraught mom was taken in by the scam and paid a ransom.

There are versions of this scam circulating, and then there is also craziness in the world. If you get a phone call like this one, it's important to first confirm that your child is okay. You can keep the caller on the phone while you verify their location and safety. The caller is likely going to ask for money or a ransom; please take precautions before transferring money.

What You Can Do:
  • Download a location tracking app and share locations with your student. If your student is reluctant and worried about you tracking their every movement, make an agreement to only use it for emergencies — this works both ways.
  • Ask for the cell phone numbers of your students' roommates and give them yours. Again, let them know that it's for emergency use only.
  • Check in regularly about personal safety. Browse the content in CollegiateParent's Safety category for more tips to share with your student about taking care of personal safety and being prepared for emergencies, whether they're on campus, living in their own apartment, traveling, and more.
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