Hoax letter, call targeting Kentuckians’ Social Security and veteran benefits
FRANKFORT, KY. (Sept. 28, 2018) – Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning senior citizens and military veterans to be wary of a new scam that attempts to switch their monthly bank deposit to a con artist’s bank account.
Beshear’s office has recently received reports from seniors and veterans in Edmonson, Fayette, Jefferson and Spencer counties who say scammers tried to steal their monthly Social Security or veteran benefit.
Beshear said that this week his office was able to help one of the veterans scammed recover $3,169.
The scam begins by someone pretending to be an employee of a bank, the Social Security Administration or a veteran organization, and claims the victim’s benefit deposit must be ‘reverified’ following ‘suspicious activity.’ Once the victim provides their personal, banking and account login information, the scammer has what they need to steal the victim’s identity and make unauthorized direct deposit changes.
“Con artists will stop at nothing to steal, including targeting seniors who rely on their benefits as a large portion of their income after retirement,” said Beshear. “Thanks to those making reports to our office, we know that this scam is trending in the state and it is especially critical that Kentuckians validate any benefit changes directly with the legitimate organization.”
Beshear’s office indicates identity thieves and mobile deposit scams are increasing as online banking advances allow Kentuckians to change their own mobile deposit routing information online or through smartphone apps.
The availability of mobile deposits can also result in con artists targeting unsuspecting victims to transfer money to the scammer using pre-paid credit and gift cards, which are most difficult to trace.
Kentuckians can avoid many scams by following these essential steps.
- Do not respond to unknown callers. If you did not initiate contact with the Social Security Administration or the Veterans Benefits Administration, and are randomly contacted by them – it is most likely a scam.
- Never provide your personal, financial or account login information to unknown, unverified people. Always contact the legitimate agency independently before any transaction.
- Protect your computer and banking data by using security software, firewalls and keep security patches and passwords up to date.
Since taking office, Beshear has been working to protect Kentucky families from scams by issuing an alert when new and trending scams are reported in the Commonwealth.
Beshear recommends all Kentuckians stay ahead of scammers by signing up for his office’s Scam Alerts. To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV-311 (468-311) or online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.
Beshear has conducted outreach and education programs in more than 180 locations throughout the state to better protect the senior and veteran population, which are often targeted by con artists.
Earlier this year, Beshear joined with AARP Kentucky to launch Mission Veterans Protected (MVP), an outreach program that helps Kentucky’s veteran community combat the findings in an AARP studywhere veterans were found to be twice as likely to fall victim to fraud when compared to nonveterans. The MVP website has a complete list of the top-10 scams that most frequently target veterans and tips on how to avoid falling victim.
Beshear encourages Kentuckians to report scams and identity theft via his office’s online form.