With the start of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) this week, Attorney General Jack Conway and Community Action Kentucky (CAK) warn consumers seeking heating assistance to be leery of scam artists.
“Many consumers seeking home heating assistance are elderly or vulnerable citizens who are at high risk for scams,” General Conway said. “I want to make sure Kentuckians who need a helping hand this winter don’t fall victim to scam artists seeking to profit from the suffering of others.”
The LIHEAP Subsidy component began November 5, 2012 and will run through December 14, 2012. During this time, CAK’s 23 Community Action Agencies (CAA) will take applications for low-income households in need of home heating assistance.
“It is important to note that LIHEAP is operated solely by Kentucky’s Community Action Agencies and that applications for home heating assistance are only accepted at local CAA offices or designated sites in each county,” said Rob Jones, Executive Director of Community Action Kentucky. “If you are solicited by phone or email to participate in LIHEAP for a fee or by providing personal financial information, it is a scam.”
To further protect Kentucky’s low-income and vulnerable citizens, Community Action Kentucky and Attorney General Conway are distributing informational posters to Community Action Agencies listing some of the most common scams, including:
- Calls from debt collectors. If you are uncertain about whether you owe a debt ask for proof of the debt in writing. Do not provide personal information. If callers harass you by phone, send a written notice that they stop calling you. Report abuse to Attorney General’s Office.
- Automated calls from “Cardholder Services” claiming to reduce your credit card interest rate. Beware, these calls are an attempt to enroll you in a debt consolidation service for a fee. If you need credit counseling, seek advice through a non-profit credit counseling organization. Call the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 800-388-2227 for help.
- Calls from Sweepstakes or lotteries. If callers ask for money up front to pay “fees or taxes,” it is illegal. If you are sent a check, beware, the check is fake and the bank will hold you responsible. If you wire money to the “promoter,” your money is gone! All foreign sweepstakes and lotteries are illegal.
- Calls from the “876” area code. This is a Jamaican area code. Many scams come from this area. Also, beware that scammers can “spoof” the number from which they are calling and “trick” your caller ID. Calls may appear to be from a local source, but they are actually from out of the country.
To protect against fraud, report scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 and to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357.
Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office of Rate Intervention continues to protect Kentuckians from excessive or unnecessary utility rate increases. General Conway’s office has saved Kentucky rate payers approximately $825 million since 2008.
CAK represents 23 CAAs that provide direct social services to Kentuckians with low and moderate incomes in all 120 Kentucky counties. CAK assists children, families and senior citizens through a variety of services, including energy assistance, housing, weatherization and other conservation programs, and emergency assistance.