ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning the public of fake calls that are targeting families and loved ones.

According to the agency, there have been reports of callers who are impersonating a loved one with a false crisis, and pleading for immediate financial help.

The BBB reminds people to be careful what you and your family post on social media. They add callers are using artificial intelligence (AI) to clone the voices of a person’s loved one to make this scam effective. In Southwest Virginia, there are more reports of people calling pretending to be law enforcement or lawyers than using AI.

BBB shares tips to avoid “Grandparent Scams:”

  • Resist the urge to act immediately. Hang up the phone; don’t call the phone number provided by the caller or caller ID.
  • Keep updated with your family. Know if they are leaving the state or country.
  • Know what your family members or friends are sharing only.
  • Ask questions that would be hard for an imposter to answer correctly.

“They can find a lot of information on social media; they can find out names,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia. “If you have something that isn’t out there or in the public realm that can not be easily identified. That will tell you you’re not talking to your grandchild or relatives.”

Never wire money or purchase gift cards, especially if you have doubts about the call or message. If you did, the Better Business Bureau says you have a small window to attempt to get your money back. They stress alerting the police and your bank and filing a report with them.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if you were scammed into purchasing a gift card, the sooner you contact the company, the better the chance for a refund. The FTC says that if the money was frozen or the scammer hasn’t used the card yet, some card companies will return the money.