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Kentucky Press News Service
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway wants Kentucky’s senior citizens to be armed with the latest information to protect themselves against fraud, identity theft and scams targeting the elderly.
“Sadly, scam artists continue to devise schemes that prey on the vulnerability and generosity of the elderly,” Conway said in a news release from his office. “My staff and I want to ensure that Kentucky’s senior citizens have the knowledge they need to protect themselves from fraudsters, scam artists and financial exploitation, all of which can be as devastating as physical abuse.”
Over the last two years, the attorney general’s office has hosted nearly 100 Senior Crime College programs, reaching more than 3,200 seniors.
Topics included bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, false employment opportunities, phony government stimulus checks, fake debt-relief scams, identity theft, and others. The majority of these scams request personal and financial information in exchange for the promise of money.
The Senior Crime College and Senior Day Out programs use information from actual consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office to help educate seniors.
“Unsolicited callers requesting personal information for hospital billing purposes, healthcare or prescription benefits, as well as lottery and sweepstakes, continue to be a major source of concern,” Conway said. “It is never wise to provide personal or financial information to a stranger over the phone or to wire money to someone who is not a trusted friend or loved one.”
Conway’s Office has also issued numerous consumer alerts about the “Grandparent’s Scam,” which targets senior citizens. In this scam, victims receive a phone call from someone claiming to be his/her grandchild, who is in trouble and in need of money. In 2010, a Vine Grove, Ky. grandmother fell victim to this scam, wiring $6,000 to a scam artist in Canada who claimed to be her grandchild.
Scheduled dates for upcoming senior events:
Aug. 21 – Senior Day at the Kentucky State Fair
Aug. 28 –Senior Safety Day, New Hope Church, Hazard
Sept. 5 – Senior Scam Jam, Capital Plaza Hotel, Frankfort
Sept. 20 – Senior Day Out, Towne Square Mall, Owensboro
Oct. 9 – Senior Day Out, Convention Center, Louisville
Oct. 10- Senior Crime College, The Friendship House, 960 South 4th, Louisville
Oct. 18 – Senior Scam Jam, Owensboro Christian Church, Owensboro
The Senior Scam Jams are held in partnership with the Department of Financial Institutions, AARP, Postal Inspection Service and Kentucky Department of Insurance.
The Senior Crime College program is also available to individual groups. Groups may request a presentation by calling the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection at 502-696-5389 or 1-888-432-9257.
Some helpful tips for seniors:
Beware of home solicitors. Keep the door closed to people you don’t recognize, talking through the storm door if necessary. Door-to-door repair people are included in this warning.
Research the product, service, company, or charitable organization before you buy or contribute money.
Don’t do business with unsolicited callers, especially those offering to “fix your credit,” “consolidate your loans,” or those claiming to be from Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.
These callers may mention that they are having difficulty depositing your stimulus payment, or need to verify your information in order for you to receive the payment. They are looking to steal your identity or take money from your bank account.
Never cash a check that you have received with a sweepstakes or lottery letter. If the letter instructs you to cash the check and wire money to pay for “fees” or “insurance,” don’t do it. The check is counterfeit and the bank will hold you liable for the funds.
Consumers who suspect they have been a victim of a scam can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 or visit http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection.