Consumer Alerts

​​​Attorney General Russell Coleman is committed to protecting Kentucky families from scams, abuse, and exploitation.  Consumer Alerts is a messaging service provided by the Attorney General's office to alert Kentuckians of ongoing scams. Be informed and save yourself and those you love and care for from the emotional and financial distress scammers can cause by signing up for Consumer Alerts.

How can I sign up to receive alerts?

Kentuckians should report scams to the Office of the Attorney General at 888-432-9257 or file a scam complaint online. 

What kinds of scams target Kentuckians?

Scams have reached an all-time high in Kentucky, and the Office of the Attorney General is constantly working to stay ahead of con artists.

In 2021, gift cards were the most frequently reported payment method for fraud and scams.  The Attorney General has partnered with the Kentucky Chamber and Kentucky Retail Federation to launch an initiative aimed at raising awareness about scams that require gift cards as payment.  The new program provides retailers and businesses with signage to post near gift card displays warning of the dangers of gift card scams.  The signage is available here

Click on the examples below to learn more about different kinds of scams.

​Investment scams involve the sale of fake financial investment opportunities. In these schemes, scammers promise low-or-no risk investments, guaranteed or overly-consistent returns, complex strategies, or unregistered securities. Many investment scams are related to the sale of bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency. Investment scammers often use social media to lure investors to make an investment on a fake website. Avoid these scams by researching before you invest. Search online for the company and cryptocurrency name, plus “review," “scam," or “complaint." Be wary of guarantees and big promises, especially if there's a celebrity endorsement. Don't trust people who promise guaranteed returns. ​

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information or Social Security number to open credit accounts, take out loans, apply for utilities or government benefits, or file taxes without your consent or knowledge. If you suspect your identity has been compromised, we urge you to take action immediately. To learn more about identity theft and what to do if your identity has been compromised, click here.  ​

​Kentuckians may experience identity theft in the form of unemployment insurance fraud. In these schemes, scammers use your name and Social Security number (SSN) to apply for unemployment insurance. To learn more about identity theft and what to do if you suspect your identity has been compromised, click here​

Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites or apps and develop relationships with their targets by messaging them through social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts. Soon after developing a relationship they fabricate a story and ask for money. They often say they're living or traveling outside the United States or may claim to work on an oil rig, as a doctor with an international organization, or serve in the military. Kentuckians should watch out for online love interests who request wire transfers, gift cards, or pre-paid credit cards for plane tickets, travel expenses, money for surgery, medical expenses, customs fees, gambling debts, or visa or official travel documents. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of a romance scam is to meet potential love interests in person and be suspicious of any online contact, whom you haven't met, that asks for money.

Kentuckians may receive a call or email from a sweepstakes scammer posing as Publisher's Clearing House or another organization. These callers inform you that you have won an expensive prize, but must first pay a fee before you can receive it. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be Publisher's Clearing House, hang up immediately. It's important to note that Publisher's Clearing House does not contact winners by phone. Remember, it is illegal for any sweepstakes promoter to request upfront fees. Any checks you receive from these scammers will be counterfeit.

Kentuckians have been called or emailed by scammers who impersonate a legitimate business. These scammers often spoof legitimate business email addresses and ask for account passwords or bank account information.  They may also call customers claiming to be a company, like Amazon, and state there have been fraudulent charges on your account and request access to your account information to investigate those charges. To avoid this scam, Kentuckians should never share personal information like account passwords or banking information in an email or with an unsolicited caller. ​

​Kentuckians have experienced online scams when purchasing items from an advertisement on social media, an illegitimate website, or a seller on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or similar sites. Purchasers either never receive their items or they receive an item of much lower quality than advertised. These scammers often require purchases to be made with gift cards, PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App, as these options provide anonymity for the seller. To avoid online purchase scams, Kentuckians should use a debit or credit card when making purchases online. If a retailer refuses to accept those forms of payment, think twice before completing the purchase. 

Many Kentucky seniors have received phone calls from scammers claiming to be their grandchild or a lawyer representing their grandchild. The scammer will claim that your grandchild has been arrested for a crime and request that you send funds via wire transfer, pre-paid credit cards, or gift cards.  The scammer often pleads with the grandparent not to tell anyone. This is one more way scammers are taking advantage of the love and concern of seniors for their families and preying on their good nature. If you receive a similar call, hang up and contact your grandchild's parent or your grandchild directly to ensure they are safe.

​Kentuckians are being targeted by scammers who claim to be law enforcement or the Social Security Administration and inform you of an outstanding warrant for your arrest due to criminal activity associated with your Social Security Number. These scammers tell you to purchase gift cards to pay for the fees associated with the warrant. Once you provide the numbers on the gift card, the scammer can use the funds. These types of scams are nearly impossible to trace. To avoid falling prey to this scam, Kentuckians should only use gift cards as gifts, and be sure to contact your local officials directly if you have concerns about a warrant.

Kentuckians responding to job openings listed on-line or in the newspaper may encounter employment or work from home scams. These scammers send job seekers a check and instruct them to wire funds to a contact as their first assignment. These checks are counterfeit, and the bank will hold the employee responsible for the amount of the returned check and associated fees.  The scammer may also assign similar tasks for the first month without providing a counterfeit check and then cease communication before paying the employee. These types of scams can also leave Kentuckians vulnerable to identity theft, as personal information may have been shared with the scammer in the course of the transaction. To avoid these types of scams, Kentuckians should avoid performing financial transactions for an online employer whom they haven't met in person. 

SBA loan scams are a type of identity theft, where a scammer uses your name and Social Security number to create a fake business and apply for an SBA loan. To learn more about SBA loan scams that result in identity theft, click here​. ​ 

​Tech support scammers claim to provide Microsoft/Windows support for a virus that has been detected and request remote access to your computer to remove it. These scammers then lock your computer and demand money to restore access to your device. They may also use a pop-up box warning you of a technical issue and provide a phone number to call. Once consumers make contact, the scammer will request remote access to your computer and ask you to open banking websites and other sites that contain personal information. Kentuckians can avoid falling prey to these scams by remembering that companies like Microsoft will not call consumers in this manner. Never call a technical support company based on a number provided in a pop-up box. It is best to obtain support phone numbers directly from a legitimate company's website.
Learn more​ here​

Scammers may impersonate court personnel or law enforcement and threaten you with arrest if you do not pay a fine for missing jury duty. Hang up. It’s a scam. ​​

Natural Disaster Scams

​​​To learn more about how to avoid becoming a victim of a natural disaster scam, click here. ​​

Gift Card Scams

Retailers and businesses wishing to download signage about gift card scams, can access it here.

Programs & Presentations

If you have an event that you would like the Office of Senior Protection and Mediation to attend please contact the Office of Senior Protection at (502) 696-5300.

Click here to find a scam event near you.

Senior Justice Initiative

During COVID-19, scams have surged, and Kentucky’s seniors have suffered significant financial harm due to these schemes. Read our Senior Justice Initiative brochure, Protecting Seniors from Scams, to learn how to avoid scams during COVID-19.

Relevant Articles

Watch Out for Holiday Scams​, Dec. 2022

Top Holiday Scams​, Dec. 2022

Increase in Scams Since 2019​, Sept. 2022

Scams After Disasters, Aug. 2022

Scams Targeting Seniors​, July 2022

Vroom Scam​, May 2022

Kentucky Medical Association, Apr. 2022

Consumer Aert: Warrant Scams​, Mar. 2022

Tornado-related Scams​, Mar. 2022

Disaster-related Scams​, Mar. 2022

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim, Feb. 2022

Tornado Fraud, Feb. 2022

Fake Currency​, Dec. 2021

Help Stop Elder Abuse, June 2021

Don't Be Duped, Jan. 2021

Spot a Scam, Nov. 2020

Employment Scams, Nov. 2020

Scam Concern Resolved, Feb. 2020

TOP TIPS to Avoid Scams

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. Scammers often offer prizes or threaten to take action against you, if you don't pay a fee or provide your personal information. 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. It is almost impossible to get your money back after it has been wired, through services like Western Union. Reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit or other types of gift cards like i-tunes present the same problem.

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 – verify their website, contact information, search for customer reviews and company policies.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is offering you something for free or a prize you never registered to win, it is more than likely a scam.