Consumer Protection Hotline:
Senior Protection Hotline: 304-558-1155
Medicaid Fraud Hotline:

Senior Protection


West Virginia has one of the most aged populations in the country. The estimated percentage of our population aged 65 or over increased from 16% in 2010 to 18.8% in 2016. This trend is expected to continue through 2030. That is why protecting our elderly from abuse, neglect and scams is vitally important. Our seniors worked hard to help West Virginia reach her full potential. We cannot forget them at their time of need.

The Attorney General is deeply committed to protecting West Virginia seniors from unscrupulous businesses, substandard care providers, and con artists. The Attorney General’s Office collaborates, litigates, and educates to protect seniors. Below you will find examples and explanations of our top complaints affecting West Virginia seniors. If you, a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor may be the victim of elder fraud or abuse, please contact our Office immediately using the hotline number listed above.


There will be times when these scammers become aggressive. Here are some tips on how to handle the discussion.

  1. The best policy is to ignore these calls and do not answer if you do not recognize the number.
  2. If you do answer you can always hang up at any time or refuse to give information once you determine it is a caller you do not recognize.
  3. Do not engage! Once you realize it is a scam call do not encourage these scammers. These are criminals and you want to remain as disengaged as possible.
  4. If you are threatened or feel as though you are in immediate danger call 911 and report your situation to law enforcement.
  5. NEVER provide any personal information over the phone and never “confirm” your personal information to anyone requesting it over the phone.

Utility Scams

No matter the time of year, it is important to have your power activated to keep your home temperature controlled and comfortable. If you ever receive a call from someone claiming to be from a utility company, like AEP, who says that there is a technician on his or her way to shut off your power or other utility and they demand payment immediately, this could be a scam. It is best to proceed with caution in these situations.


  • If they leave you a voicemail, confirm that the number that was left for you matches the phone number provided on your utility bill before returning any call.
  • Be aware that criminals can “spoof” phone numbers. This means that sometimes your caller ID will register that you are receiving a call from a number you might recognize.
  • If you answer the call and it seems suspicious, hang up and call the number provided on your utility bill and confirm your account status with a representative at your utility company.


  • Do not give any kind of personal or financial information over the phone.
  • Do not pay anyone with gift cards. Legitimate companies do not accept them as a form of payment.
  • Do not engage or provoke the caller if you identify it as a scam. It is best to simply hang up and refuse to answer the call.
Sweepstakes/Lottery Scam

If you receive a call, letter, or email claiming that you have won a sweepstakes or prize always proceed with caution and be sure to do your research. Make sure to ask which company the caller is affiliated with. Representatives of legitimate contests will clearly identify their company and should be able to provide terms and conditions of their contest.

If you are ever instructed to pay the fees for taxes, insurance, processing, or delivery expenses in order to receive this prize, it is likely a scam and you will never receive what you are promised. This payment is commonly requested in the form of gift cards or the scammer will ask you to transfer money via Money Gram or Western Union.


  • Be wary of any offers for winnings in a contest you do not remember entering
  • Ask for the caller’s name and the name of the company they represent
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to confirm the reputation of any company, remember that you can always check with them first before accepting any prizes.


  • Do not believe that you should have to pay money or provide gift cards in order to claim a prize.
  • Do not pay anyone with gift cards. Legitimate companies do not accept them as a form of payment.
  • Do not engage or provoke the caller if you identify it as a scam. It is best to simply hang up and refuse to answer the call.
Grandparent Scam

The grandparent scam is one of the easiest to fall for because for most grandparents there is nothing they wouldn’t do for their grandchildren. Be wary any time you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild or other close relative requesting money. As a part of this scam he or she will claim that they are in trouble. For example, he or she went out of town for a wedding or a funeral, had too much to drink, and now they have been thrown in jail with DUI charges.

The scammer will likely know multiple family member’s names and there is a chance that a scammer will go so far as to put “their attorney” or a “police officer” on the phone to make it seem more convincing if you seem suspicious. One sign to watch out for is if they ask for bail money in the form of a gift cards or a money transfer.

Criminals can “spoof” phone numbers of family members, which means it could appear that the call is coming from your family member’s phone number. This does not necessarily mean that the call is coming from his/her phone.


  • Ask questions only your grandchild would know.
  • Remain calm and level headed.
  • Know that most jails or legitimate bondsmen do not accept gift cards as a form of payment


  • Do not confirm any personal information if you become suspicious that it might be a scam.
  • Do not trust that just because your caller ID registers that you are receiving a call from a family member that it is legitimate. Scammers can “spoof” your loved one's numbers to trick you into believing them.
  • Do not send any money until you call other family members to confirm the story, even if the caller begs you not to “tell mom and dad”.
Tech Support Scam

Technology has come a long way in the past few decades and as a society we have a tendency to upload or save a great deal of personal information on our devices. There are criminals looking to take advantage of those who may be not be as “tech-savvy” to try to obtain some of that personal information.

You may receive a phone call or a pop-up on your computer from someone claiming to be a technician from businesses such as Windows, Microsoft, or Apple. They will claim that your computer has a virus or security breach and offer to log-in to your computer to correct the issue. They may be asking for money, computer passwords, personal information, and/or may damage computers with malicious software.


  • Take your computer to a legitimate professional business to be checked if you believe your computer may be compromised by malicious software.
  • Know that Microsoft will NEVER call you on the phone to discuss fixing your computer.
  • Keep all personal information password protected.


  • Do not give out passwords or codes to anyone for any reason, especially over the phone or over any website or instant messenger.
  • Do not visit suspicious websites with a lot of pop ups.
  • Do not load any program onto your computer without running it through a malware detection program or consulting a professional.
Dating Scam

With the expansion of social media and the ability for more people to connect online, more people are finding romantic relationships through online programs and social media. This is also an easy way for scammers to steal your money and personal information for exploitation.

Fake profiles are becoming very common. These fake profiles are made by criminals wishing to lure the victim. They use fictional names, or take the identity of someone who can be trusted (i.e. military personnel, nurses, or professionals working abroad). They express strong emotions to the victim in a short period of time. They use emotions to gain the victim’s trust. Shortly into a relationship the scammer will begin to ask for money. They will also ask for favors such as picking up money for him or her and sending the money to family or friends.


  • Research the name and picture used in the profile. Usually, scammers reuse similar photos and names, so it will likely appear in multiple places.
  • Contact the police at 911 if you ever feel physically threatened
  • Research where the person says they are employed to attempt to further confirm their identity.


  • Do not EVER send personal information or money to someone who you do not know or have not physically met in person.
  • Do not EVER send money on behalf of someone you do not know or have never met. You could unknowingly become a part of a money laundering scheme.
  • Do not accept gifts or receive and resend gifts from someone you do not know or have never met in person.
Health Insurance Scam

With the way healthcare has changed over the past decade it has become confusing. Criminals are taking advantage of the confusion. There are a few things to watch out for when someone contacts you in regard to your health insurance.

Some criminals may attempt to contact you by phone or mail posing as your health insurance provider. Others may request payment for a doctor visit or offer a “deal” on unnecessary medical equipment. It is important to not panic or be pressured by these calls. Always verify the credentials of whoever you are talking to on the phone and any paperwork you receive in the mail. Remember that you can always hang up and call the number on your policy paperwork if you feel uncomfortable.


  • Keep records of all doctor appointments, how much they charge for services, and when you made payments.
  • Only sign or fill in sensitive personal information on insurance forms with your insurance agent present.
  • Always verify discounts and deals with your insurance provider before making a purchase.


  • Do not believe that medical services or medical equipment is free without checking with your provider.
  • Do not share your policy identification or any other sensitive personal information with anyone except your doctor’s office.
  • Do not sign anything that is suspicious or makes you feel uncomfortable without contacting your insurer for more information.
Medicare Scam

The number of Medicare beneficiaries in the United States grows every day. With those growing numbers, Medicare scams are on the rise. There are a few different techniques that scammers use in order to gain the victims’ sensitive personal information.

The most common ways that these criminals try to trick their victims include the new card scheme. This involves criminals posing as representatives notifying Medicare patients they are issuing new cards. In order to get the new card, they will request that the victims provide identifying information such as social security information, Medicare policy or card number, and banking account numbers. Scammers will also claim the victim is entitled to money back due to changes by Medicare or private insurers. This refund scam can leave any beneficiary exposed. Scammers will often pose as a doctor’s office, hospital, state or local health agency or even a phony agency. They use a spoofing technique to change the caller ID screen. These posers offer complimentary checkups used as a way to get personal information. Never trust a caller ID. If you are unsure if a call is real, please hang up and check with Medicare or your supplemental insurance provider.


  • Initiate contact to your insurer using the contact information on your insurance sheets if you have any suspicions or concerns about your insurance or benefits.
  • Keep detailed records of all medical related costs that are billed to your insurance.
  • Verify any deals or claims about refunds with Medicare before giving out any personal information.


  • Do not ever share any of your personal information or Medicare policy information when you feel a situation seems suspicious.
  • Do not trust that just because your caller ID registers that you are receiving a call from a family member that it is legitimate. Scammers can “spoof” your loved one's numbers to trick you into believing the call is from a valid number.
  • Do not verify personal information to someone over the phone, including your Medicare card number and policy information.
Contractor Scam

There are many people who like to remodel their homes once they are transitioning into their senior years to make their homes as comfortable as possible. Sometimes criminals will prey on seniors looking to remodel for a good price by posing as a contractor who offers a “deal”. There are others who will ask for a large deposit and will never show up to perform the proper work. The best way to keep yourself protected against contractor scams is to make yourself as informed as possible. Be sure to always check credentials and do your research. Be mindful that a scam could easily happen to any homeowner.


  • Know that it is typical for a contractor to ask for a 10% deposit.
  • Ask for a signed contract that clearly outlines the total of the finished project.
  • Request to see proper licensing, proof of insurance, and references from past projects.


  • Do not hesitate to check with the Contractor’s Licensing Board for proof of proper licensing.
  • Do not pay more than the agreed upon total without updating your contract.
  • Do not be pressured into a “deal” without doing your research on the business/individual.