Over the past months, State’s
Attorney James W. Glasgow and Sheriff Paul Kaupas have
spoken to hundreds of Senior Citizens to inform them on common
scams and prevention techniques that can help them avoid
becoming a victim of a Scam Artist or Identity Theft.
The following information is important for Citizens to know:
How much money will you have to spend or invest in the coming
years? You could lose a lot of money to swindlers through:
- Unfair pricing
- Shoddy goods
- Inflated interest rates
- Poor service
- Crooked schemes
Check with a trusted friend or family member before you:
- Sign a contract
- Make a purchase
- Invest money
Anyone can be a victim of fraud, including
older people. Senior Citizens are often prime targets for
scams. You can protect yourself by learning to recognize
key warning signs such as:
- An offer of something for nothing
- Pressure to sign or buy something right away
- Unwillingness to explain the details of a service
- Tricky wording or vague language in any contract
- Promise of a kickback that hinges on a future event
- Phone solicitation by questionable organizations
Protecting Yourself from Scammers
- Never give out your credit card number or ANY personal
identification information over the phone to anyone. If
you call and place an order, use a separate credit card
with a very low limit.
- Keep all carbon copies of charge slips and destroy them
when you get home. Destroy all bill receipts and other
mail with personal information.
- Check your monthly credit card statements for unauthorized
- Beware of social security, insurance, and veteran scams.
Remember, do not give any personal information over the
- Don’t be a victim of phone fraud.
- You don’t have to listen to someone if you don’t
want to. It is okay to hang up when someone is
talking. You can also demand to be taken off their
- You do not have to answer your door.
- Donate only to trusted local charities or churches.
- Don’t advertise living alone. List yourself
in the phone book with a first name initial only.
- Legitimate police and fire organizations will not ask
for donations over the phone.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the nation
today. It is affecting over a half a million people each
year costing millions of dollars in damage to credit ratings
and savings accounts.
You may be a victim of identity theft and not even know
it. How easy do you think it is for someone to obtain your
identity? A lot easier than you think! With the computer
age upon us, there are hundreds of databases that collect
and retain personal information about you.
That information could include your buying habits, lifestyle
activities, social security and drivers license numbers,
date of birth, phone number, home address, and profession.
Where do they get my information?
Most information collected from you is collected legitimately,
from grocery stores, magazine subscriptions, buying habits
gleaned from credit card purchases, insurance carriers and
doctor’s offices. However, sometimes criminals gain
access to this information.
Another method of information gathering is much darker.
Dumpster Divers check your mailbox and your garbage for credit
card statements, bill receipts and other documents that may
give them information on your credit or banking information.
Take your mail to the post office or put it in your mailbox
right before the mail carrier comes. Shred all bill receipts,
credit card statements and applications, and bank statements.
Don’t forget to destroy any other mail that comes to
you and identifies any personal information.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
- Take your mail to the post office or put it in your mailbox
right before the mail carrier comes.
- Shred all bill receipts and credit card and bank statements.
- Don’t put your social security number on your driver’s
- Don’t carry your social security card,
passport, or birth certificate unless it is absolutely
- If someone calls you and offers you the chance
to receive a credit card, “grand prize”, or anything else
valuable, DO NOT give them any information, instead ask
them to send you written verification. If they won’t,
- Keep a complete list of all your account numbers
in a safe place and don’t forget to include
the phone numbers for customer service.
- Watch the expiration dates on your credit cards.
In the event your new card doesn’t show
up on time, contact your credit card company
- Cancel credit cards that haven’t been used
for six months; open credit is a prime target.
- Don’t put your credit card number on the
Internet unless the site is noted as safe.
- If you want to stop receiving most pre-approved credit
card applications from coming to you in the mail (information
on persons with good credit is given to credit card companies
from the credit reporting bureaus) call 1-888-5OPTOUT (567-8688).
- Stop all mail, newspapers and other recurring deliveries.
- Don’t give out any personal information
unless you know and trust the person; i.e. hotel,
car rental, etc.
- Use a secure (where no one can overhear you) location
when you need to give out any personal information.
- If you think you may be a victim of a Scam or
Identity Theft, please contact your local police
department or the Sheriff’s Department
and print the Identity Theft Victim Response Packet
and follow the steps to begin recovering your identity
Check Your Credit Report
Beginning March 1, 2005, all Illinoisans can receive free
copies of their credit reports once a year from each of the
three national credit reporting agencies.
The annual free reports are available only through the
centralized source set up the three credit reporting agencies.
If consumers contact the companies directly they will still
be charged for their credit reports. To obtain the free reports,
- Call 1-877-322-8228;
- Order online at www.annualcreditreport.com; or
- Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form
available at www.ftc.gov/credit, and mail it to:
Annual Credit Reports Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
For more information on Identity Theft, visit http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/
If you would like someone to come speak to your senior group
about preventing senior scams or identity theft, please call
the State’s Attorney’s Office Crime Prevention
Department at 815-727-8742.