(KTXL) — It starts with a phone call from a person claiming to be a family member and could end up with the loss of thousands of dollars.

It’s called the ‘grandparent scam,’ and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office is advising residents to be careful about answering calls that ask them to quickly hand money over to another person.

The scam takes its name from the targeting of elderly relatives. A person calls the victim pretending to be their grandchild and claims that they are in jail, pleading with the victim to get in contact with an attorney.

The so-called attorney then requests money supposedly to pay bail, and the victim may even be contacted by a person claiming to be a courier, but sheriff’s officials say that all of these people are in on the scam and could end up taking thousands of dollars in cash from the victim.

How to protect your family from the ‘grandparent scam’

Sheriff’s officials advise residents to be careful with the information about their relatives that they post on social media or dating apps since scammers get information about family relations through these platforms.

The people that run these scams may also have the technology to have a caller ID appear as a familiar number or an untraceable number.

Officials say that the best ways to protect oneself from these scams is to get in contact with the family member that makes the call, be suspicious of calls that require you to take quick action regarding money and to never give personal information or money to someone you recently spoke to.