DeKALB – Avoiding jury duty, asking grandparents for money and winning a sweepstakes remain prevalent scams targeting unsuspecting residents, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told an audience Thursday at Northern Illinois University.
Consumer protection was the focus of the roundtable discussion led by Madigan and members of her office. The group updated law enforcement officials, community leaders and business owners on the hazards of consumer fraud and identity theft.
“There is obviously more companies need to be doing, but there is a lot we can do as consumers to protect ourselves,” Madigan said. “It is happening every week, every day, and individuals are unaware until they need access to their credit.”
Madigan created her office’s Consumer Protection Division in 2006 as consumer fraud reports and identity theft cases began to rise. Since then, Madigan said her staff has helped more than 40,000 victims and returned more than $26 million in fraudulent charges.
In DeKalb County, about 18 percent of investigations deal with consumer fraud and identity theft, DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said. That includes phone and email scams, as well as people attempting to forge payroll checks.
“We see everything and more here in the county,” Scott said. “Once it happens, it is very time consuming and tough to track down the perpetrators.”
Those most commonly victimized include older people and those who may not speak English, but “the reality is, it’s everybody who can be targeted,” Madigan said.
The discussion also focused on preventive measures and what to do if a person is victimized.
Tips for avoiding scams and identity theft include setting up transaction alerts for debit and credit cards, which notify account holders of suspicious transactions; carefully reviewing monthly bank and credit card statements, and placing a security freeze on a person’s credit.
“None of these [precautions] are foolproof,” Madigan said, “but used together, they all will make [you] less likely to be victimized.”
If a person believes their credit or identity has been compromised, they should report it immediately to their creditors, place a fraud alert on their credit report and file a police report.
Tips on identify theft
To avoid being victimized:
• Set up transaction alerts for debit and credit cards
• Carefully review bank and credit card statements
• Place a security freeze on your credit.
If you suspect identity fraud:
• Report it immediately to creditors
• Place a fraud alert on credit report
• File a police report.
For more information or to report suspicious activity, call Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office at 312-814-3000 or visit www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.