Are You Actually Reconnecting with a Lost Relative?
Reconnecting with an extended family member can be very comforting. And it’s a great way to forge new friendships within your family. Whether you’ve fallen out of touch or something happened to cause the disconnect, it’s nice to feel a connection to lost members of your family.
However, especially if the other party reached out to you first, it’s a good idea to be cautious. It’s not that hard to find out if someone has a distant relative with whom they would like to reconnect. This means that scammers can find that information and pose as your long-lost relative. If someone reaches out to you claiming to be a distant relative, use these tips to make sure it’s actually your family member.
Ask How He or She Found You
If not offered upfront, it’s a good first step to ask how he or she got your contact information in the first place. Was it via a people search engine? Other family members? Did your lost relative find you on social media? If the person doesn’t have an answer, then it’s time to be a bit suspicious. Remember to keep the answer in mind, too, so you can be mindful of future inconsistencies.
Have The Person Share a Memory
Some personal information can be found online, but memories can’t. Especially if you don’t talk to this relative anymore, it’s unlikely that you’ve posted information about him or her, so memories can be a great way to cement the person’s identity. If you used to go to family reunions, ask about a memorable moment.
Even if you rarely had any interactions with this relative, ask for some family information that the person should know. A vague or blatantly untrue answer is obviously a warning sign.
See What the Person’s Intentions Are
Scammers don’t want to waste time building a relationship, while lost relatives are going to be interested in that very relationship. If it only takes a few days for the supposed relative to start mentioning a need for money, or if he or she starts asking for personal information, it very well could be a scammer.
Give it some time; scammers don’t usually play the long game, so a waiting period is a good strategy.
Ask for a Picture
This is something that people do with potential catfishers, and it can be very effective. Scamming masterminds may be able to make something look like a genuine photo. But many others will avoid sending it for as long as possible.
Once you receive a photo, be sure to run a reverse photo search. Catfishers will grab pictures of random models off the internet, and then try to pass them off as self-images. Feel free to ask the other person to hold up a specific amount of fingers or take a picture with a common household item.
Verify Identity with a People Search Engine
If you’re getting mixed signals–or everything seems to be fine but you have a bad feeling about it–you should check things yourself. Someone can feed you lies all day long. But if you’re the one doing the research, what you find can be a revelation. A great way to try and check someone’s identity is with PeopleFinders.
PeopleFinders can make it easier to tell if you’re talking to the right person. Do a background check on your actual distant relative. That check may tell you things like where he or she currently lives, their other relatives, and other important information.
If the info you find indicates that the other person is actually from a different place than they claim, their email account or phone number doesn’t match up, or that that “relative” has actually passed away, then you have reason to suspect that you’re being scammed.
It can be very comforting to reconnect with loved ones after a long time. Even if you lost contact because of a falling out, mending those issues can be very cathartic and tie-up a lot of loose ends. However, that emotion is a prime target for scammers, who’ll happily take advantage of the way you feel to make a quick buck.
Whenever someone reaches out to reconnect with you, make sure you use online people search tools to try and verify the person’s identity. That way, you can reconnect with confidence.
Image attribution: zephyr_p – stock.adobe.comTags: family, Relatives, Scammer
Categorized in: People Data