Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt spoke to the Augusta Lions Club Tuesday evening and warned them about the scam artists who might call on the telephone or knock on your front door.
Schmidt explained that since the 1970s the Kansas Legislature and Governor decided that the Attorney General’s office would enforce the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. While the state agency works in conjunction with local prosecutors in most other areas, the state AG is the first stop for most consumer protection problems—except for two of the larger counties, Sedgwick and Johnson.
“Reality is that county attorneys are up to their eye balls doing everything else so they welcome the AG to take the front row in consumer protection situations,” he said. “I always welcome citizens to contact us directly concerning scams and complaints. We have investigators, prosecutors, and collectors. We receive around 4,500 complaints a year and last year we recovered over $49 million in restitution for consumers. I feel obligated to talk with people about consumer protection.”
Schmidt shared several information on several scams occurring in Kansas. He spoke first on the old-fashioned con artists who sell products and or services door-to-door. He is quick to explain that going door-to-door is not an illegal industry in itself, but warns consumers to be on guard and not to fall for phony sales pitches.
“By law you have three days to cancel and get your money back. Get it in writing, or shut your door if they don’t offer it in writing. Be wary. Do NOT pay in cash,” he warned.
He also quick to advise that no strangers should be allowed inside your home, especially those perpetrating home improvement scams, which includes the storm-chasing roofers and siding companies. Again his advice is to do business locally with people you trust or who have a track record of good, honest work.
Schmidt also addressed scams involving technology. Many recent scams include phone calls asking for personal identification information logging into personal accounts.
“Never give out your personal information. No bank is ever going to call and ask you to provide credit card or personal information over the phone,” he added, “Always ask them for the record locater number. If it’s legitimate, you can call the bank with the record locater number and look up the case.”
He shared information on the scams targeting grandparents, in which the con artist exploits the love and generosity of the grandparent by pretending to be a grandchild in trouble and in need of emergency funds. The fraudster convinces the grandparent that they are assisting a grandchild to pay for transportation home from a foreign country, for medical treatment, or bail. Some grandparents--more than willing to come to the aid of a grandchild in need--set aside their reservations and quickly wire money to the impostor. Furthermore, the con artist may ask the grandparents not to contact the parents out of embarrassment or because the need is too urgent to lose time consulting someone else.
Page 2 of 2 - Schmidt recommended verifying the caller’s identity. Contact a family member who could confirm the caller’s story. Try contacting the real grandchild at a number you know is accurate. A consumer can also ask questions of the caller, the answers to which only the real grandchild would know. Be attentive to whether the caller is answering in detail or just guessing the answers.
Finally, he advised, “Watch out for each other. If it doesn’t seem right, have it checked out. Contact the local police department. They will help.”