New AG notification program aims at protecting seniors from scam artists
May 19, 2016 – Today, Attorney General Andy Beshear joined Kroger, AARP and over 25 other partner organizations to launch Scam Alerts – a text messaging service that notifies consumers when con artists are on the attack.
Kentuckians can sign up for Scam Alerts by texting KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311). Or, enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.
“Today we launch a transformational tool in our fight against scams,” Beshear said. “For the first time, we are going to be able to directly communicate new or trending scams to the citizens of Kentucky. This new alert system is transforming how Kentucky protects our consumers by warning them the minute my office verifies a reported scam. Our partners from across the state will help us spread the word about the new text alert system so that we can better protect our seniors. ”
Scam Alerts aim to combat the steep climb in reports of scams targeting Kentuckians by phone, mail and email.
In the past four months Beshear has notified Kentuckians of a student loan debt relief scam, the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes scam, a scam targeting victims of financial fraud, IRS and federal warrant scams and a labor law poster scam targeting small-business owners.
Nationally, last year more than 3 million consumers were conned out of $765 million. Seniors lose nearly $37 billion a year to elder financial abuse.
Kentucky retailer Kroger hosted the kick-off events today at stores in Louisville and Lexington. As part of Kroger’s anti-scam efforts, it requires many money services transactions to be completed at a guest care desk where store associates are trained to identify and assist potential scam victims.
“This partnership will create a flow of information between the Attorney General’s office and Kroger,” said Janet Neutz, a spokeswoman for Kroger. “When potential scams or fraud is reported we share that information with our associates who are on the front lines helping us ward against scams and fraud for our customers.”
AARP Kentucky is also partnering with the AG’s office to continue its commitment to help Kentucky seniors signup for Scam Alerts through its training and outreach programs.
“One of AARP’s missions is to help people outsmart con artist before they strike,” said Jim Kimbrough, AARP Kentucky state president. “Our goal is to help Kentuckians safeguard against identity theft and scams so they can keep their hard-earned money.”
Beshear’s announcement came as AARP and the country is honoring Older American’s Month, and he offered several tips to help seniors and all Kentuckians stay ahead of scammers.
- Hang up. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine. And, avoid robocalls by registering your number on Kentucky’s No Call list.
- Do not pay upfront. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will not threaten you for upfront payments.
- Do not wire money or send reloadable credit/gift cards to people you do not know. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will not require you to use these payment methods.
- Slow down. Con artists prey on fear and want to scare you in to taking action very quickly. Before you issue payment or provide your personal information, verify the business by researching it online or calling a family member or neighbor.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Office of the Attorney General’s Family Branch Unit, which includes the Office of Consumer Protection and the Office of Senior Protection, is working to make Kentuckians aware of the program and asks those interested in becoming a Scam Alerts partner to call 502-696-5393 or visit ag.ky.gov/scams.