Community can help remove stigma, stop scams: Experts

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The advice is given often. And yet, people still fall victim.

And in Kentucky, with almost 90 percent of those victims, being over age 60, it’s up to the entire community to help put an end to it.

Those were the messages Friday during an online discussion about scams, how they have increased during the coronavirus outbreak and what to do to either avoid them or to help others avoid them.

“We’ve got to change the mindset…convince people that I am not a victim, I am an advocate,” said Dr. Nichole Huff, UK assistant extension professor of family finance and resource management, noting the more the community “learns and shares” the easier it will be to have “hard conversations with our parents.”

That’s necessary to “put the stigma aside to work together” on education and prevention, added Heather Clary, director of communications for the Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said his office has seen a 300 percent increase in reported scams since March with most of those involving the coronavirus. Examples include unemp[loyment ripoffs, testing schemes, work-from-hope ripoffs, among others.

In addition, his office has received more than 4,000 complaints of price-gouging.

And those numbers likely are low because scams and fraud are the “most under-reported crimes” in the country, according to John Breyault, vice president of the National Consumers League. Many people don’t report because of the stigma associated with falling victim.

“Use your instincts, use your common-sense,” Cameron advised. “If you get an unsolicited phone call or an unsolicited email, be a little skeptical, be highly skeptical.

“Ask a friend or a relative or a neighbor,” he continued.

“Follow your gut, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” added Clary.

Scams can be reported to 888-432-9257.

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