Attorney General Andy Beshear is urging Kentuckians to take six steps to avoid falling victim to scammers and identity thieves who pocketed $6 million from Kentucky families last year.
In a new report from the Federal Trade Commission, Kentuckians made more than 22,000 fraud reports and 3,000 reports of identity theft last year. The categories with the most reports were debt collection, impostor scams and identity theft.
Beshear said his office recommends Kentuckians take time during National Consumer Protection Week, March 4–10, 2018, to complete a few simple steps that can help them make well-informed decisions about their finances and avoid scammers, identity thieves.
· Check your credit.
Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com to get a free annual credit report from the major credit reporting agencies. If you notice suspicious activity, follow the steps in the Office of the Attorney General’s Identity Theft Tool Kit.
· Update and strengthen online passwords.
Make your online accounts less vulnerable to fraudsters by regularly changing your passwords and pin numbers. Avoid using the same password across multiple accounts. Use long and complex sequences of numbers, symbols and letters to strengthen passwords and when possible set up a two-step verification for a sign-on that occurs on a new device.
· Hold back on providing personal information.
Never send your Social Security number to an unverified, unsecure person, email or website. Even for trusted sources, stop and ask if you really need to provide your Social Security number and offer to provide a piece of information that is less desired by identity thieves.
· Clean out and shred old documents.
Don’t just pitch your sensitive documents – shred them to help prevent identity theft. Bills, receipts and documents that contain sensitive personal, financial information should be securely destroyed by shredding at home or at free community shred-it events.
· Stop use of untraceable methods of payment.
If you are asked to make a payment using wire transfer, gift cards or cash it is most likely a scam.
· Sign up for Scam Alerts.
By texting the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311) or visiting ag.ky.gov Kentuckians may enroll in Beshear’s Scam Alerts program. Those enrolled receive text messages or email alerts when new and trending scams are reported in Kentucky and tips on how to avoid falling victim to the latest scam.
Beshear has issued more than 45 Scam Alerts over the past two years, including recent notices about text messaging scammers pretending to be law enforcement officials and online ‘catfishing’ scammers. More than 15,000 Kentuckians are signed up for the alerts and more than 160 community partners support the effort throughout the state.
Beshear and his office of Senior Protection and Mediation also launched Interfaith Travel Series Scam Alerts, a partnership with AARP and Kentucky’s faith-based community to help better protect local congregations and the communities they serve from con artists and scams.
In January, Beshear and AARP Kentucky also teamed up on a new Scam Alerts initiative, Mission Veterans Protected (MVP), to help combat the findings in a recent study by AARP that determined more veterans are targeted by con artists and fall victim to fraud when compared to nonveterans.
A coalition of more than 30 partners are helping Beshear and AARP conduct a more than 25-stop statewide outreach campaign to talk directly to veterans and military families about scam prevention. A MVP website also provides critical information on how to identify the 10 most common veteran-specific scams; who to call for help; a list of upcoming community events and a printable awareness poster.
As part of his commitment to protect Kentucky families from the emotional and financial devastation con artists cause, Beshear has made protecting Kentucky families from scams one of the core missions of his office.
To date, Kentucky families scammed or involved in a dispute with a business have received more than $1.4 million through the Office of the Attorney General’s informal mediation services.
To report a scam or consumer complaint visit Beshear’s website, ag.ky.gov.