Phone Scam Alert

January 14, 2005

Kansans should be aware of a phone scam that is targeting residents throughout the state, especially the elderly.

The scam begins with a phone solicitation promising $200 worth of gasoline vouchers that can be used at local gas stations. In exchange for the vouchers, consumers are asked to provide a processing fee of $3.95 that is to be drafted directly from their checking account. With that information, the caller is then able to remove all funds from the account. To date, there have been reports of the attempted scam in Olathe, Paola, Louisburg, LaCygne, and Osawatomie.

The Attorney Generalís Consumer Protection Division was alerted to the scam by a Kansas financial institution that called the division after it was discovered that nearly a dozen of the bank's customers, mostly elderly, had fallen for the scam. In this case, the bank recognized the attempted withdrawals as a scam and prevented the unauthorized withdrawals from being completed.

Kansans should avoid revealing their bank account information to any unknown individual or company over the phone. If you decide to make a purchase as a result of a phone solicitation, use a major credit card because they usually offer the most protections to consumers.

If you have not already done so, you should register your home and cell phone numbers on the Do Not Call list by calling 1-888-382-1222. While such registration will not stop con artists from calling, you can be sure that once you are on the No-Call list, "cold calls" to sell you something are not from legitimate, law-abiding companies.

The Kansas Bankers Association has been notified of the scam and has cautioned financial institutions throughout the state to be on the lookout for any such activity.

Kansans who believe that they have been victimized by this or any other scam should notify the Attorney Generalís Consumer Protection division at 1-800-432-2310.