March 22, 2005
State's Attorney Jim Glasgow and Sheriff Paul Kaupas have teamed up to bring important information to Will County Senior Citizens on how to prevent becoming victims of scams and identity theft. In the past few months, they have spoken to hundreds of area seniors on common scams and common methods of scammers and identity theft.
Some common scams are unfair pricing, shoddy goods, inflated interest rates, poor service, and crooked schemes. Seniors should check with a trusted friend or family member before signing a contract, making a major purchase, or investing money. Common methods of scammers include making an offer of something for nothing, pressure to sign or buy something right away and unwillingness to explain the details of a service, trick wording or vague language, and/or a promise of a kickback. One of the fastest growing types of scam is phone solicitation, and seniors are warned to never give personal information to someone over the phone, unless the citizen has initiated the call to a valid business. Senior citizens are also warned that unscrupulous phone solicitors are very cunning and can sound very sincere, and it is very difficult to tell a legitimate solicitation from an illegitimate one, so it may be in their best interest to have a standing rule that they do not participate in phone solicitations. A couple very important thing for seniors to know; it is okay to hang up the phone, and it is okay to not open your door to strangers.
Identity theft is another growing concern for all citizens as well as seniors. Some important things to know in order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to again, don't give out any personal information over the phone; credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers. If someone is persistent and they say they are from your bank, get their name and call the number that is listed in your phone book to check on the validity of the call. Citizens should destroy all carbons and charge slips as well as mail with personal information or credit card offers, and should always check credit card statements for unauthorized charges. Seniors are also warned to beware of veteran, police and firefighter scams. If you want to donate, call your local agency and ask how. Don't fall for phone or mail scams that promise you money in exchange for a fee or with a band account number, they are criminals trying to get your money. If seniors have access to the Internet, they can find current scam alerts and find out how to get free credit reports at http://www.ag.state.il.us/. If you think you have been a victim of a scam or consumer fraud, call your local police department. If your group would like to hear more about Senior Scams and Identity Theft prevention, please call the State's Attorney's Crime Prevention Speaker's Bureau at 815-727-8742.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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