Office of the Attorney General
Economic Downturn Sparks Rise in Scam Reports
Attorney General Jack Conway cautions Kentuckians to be on guard against con artists who prey on job seekers and consumers struggling to pay their mortgages. With the economic downturn, the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is receiving more scam-related calls from concerned consumers.
“Kentuckians struggling to make ends meet can easily fall victim to con artists’ gimmicks. I encourage citizens to be extra vigilant when considering foreclosure help, work-at-home offers and sweepstakes or lotteries. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” General Conway said.
Consumers should also be on guard against fraudulent charities this holiday season.
“At a time when so many families are struggling, it is more important than ever to support reputable, well- established charities that truly make a difference in our local communities. However, consumers should be mindful that there are irresponsible, even fraudulent charities that abuse the public’s trust and deprive the needy,” cautioned General Conway.
The following are important tips for consumers:
Charitable solicitors – Be cautious of sound alike charities and solicitors unable to answer questions. Always ask the solicitor what percentage of your dollar goes to the cause. Ask for written information so that you can research the charity through the Office of the Attorney General at www.ag.ky.gov or the Better Business Bureau before giving.
Sweepstakes and Lotteries – The Attorney General’s Office receives several calls daily regarding foreign lotteries and sweepstakes. Some consumers receive what appears to be a legitimate check to assist them in paying “fees and taxes.” These checks are counterfeit and should NOT be cashed. Additionally, money should NOT be wired to any sweepstakes promoter. It is illegal.
Foreclosure Help – Con artists prey on consumers struggling to pay their mortgages by offering help for a fee. These offers are often found in classified ad sections and tabloids, but can also come by mail or telephone. These offers are often bogus and seldom result in legitimate help. If you are in danger of foreclosure, contact Protect My Kentucky Home at 1-866-830-7868 for assistance.
Work-at-Home Offers – Beware of ads appearing in classified ad sections of the newspaper and tabloids or offers by mail or phone. Applying for jobs online sometimes results in your receiving emails indicating that you can work from home and serve as a money “processor” for an out-of-the-country company, or a “customer service representative.” These offers are bogus and involve processing checks or money orders and wiring money to an unknown source. The checks are counterfeit and you will be held liable for the funds at the bank.
Online Shopping – Only deal with companies that you know and trust. Make sure that you are shopping on a site that offers secure payment processing. Beware of contacts made on some of the popular “for sale” listing sites or auction sites that require you to wire money instead of using a secure payment processor. Be aware if you’re selling an item, you may be contacted by con artists as well.
Gift Cards – If you purchase gift cards for Christmas gifts, research the financial stability of the store and shop with established stores with whom you know and trust. If a store closes, the card is of no value to the recipient.
If you have been a victim of a consumer scam or want to check on a company or report suspicious companies, please contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.