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Our office continues to receive phone calls that scammers are phoning in our area.   Please speak with your spouses, parents, grandparents and friends about these scams.  The phone calls sound so real and many people get scammed.

Senior citizens report being targeted by a new scam: fraudulent operators who pretend to be calling about Medicare, Social Security, or supplemental insurance, but whose actual purpose is to trick seniors into disclosing their private financial information. Disclosure of such information can lead to identity theft or unauthorized withdrawals from a person’s bank account. Prevent this scam from happening to you, or someone you care about.

How the Scam Works

Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries across the country report receiving calls from scam operators (frequently with foreign accents), who claim to represent Medicare, Social Security, or an insurance company. These callers claim that new Medicare, Social Security, supplemental insurance benefits cards are being issued or that the beneficiary’s file must be updated. The scam artist asks the citizen to verify or provide their personal banking information, which is then used to commit theft.

Callers involved in this crime ring may be extremely aggressive, calling over and over, and at all times of the day, in an attempt to wear down the potential victim. These criminals will say anything to try to gain a person’s trust. In some cases, the criminals may have already obtained some limited personal information about the citizen, such as his or her name, address, or even Social Security number, which the criminal then uses to try to make the call seem legitimate. In other cases, the callers may claim that they can improve the benefits. Do not believe these claims, and do not carry on a conversation with the caller. Instead, if you receive a call asking you to disclose your bank account or other financial information, hang up immediately. These are criminals, and by speaking with the callers, even to ask them to stop calling, they may be encouraged to continue calling your telephone number.

If you are a Medicare or Social Security beneficiary, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration do not call you to ask you to disclose financial information in order to get a new card. If you receive such a call, you should report it to these two agencies as follows:

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21244
www.cms.gov

Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
1100 West High Rise
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235
(800) 772-1213
www.ssa.gov

Ruse Burglaries: Every spring we hear of the ruse burglaries in Lake County.  This is just a reminder to be on guard for this.
The burglars will sometimes pose as traveling handymen or utility company workers (phone company, water company, county assessor etc.). The subjects will attempt to gain entry from a homeowner through some sort of ruse (Ex: a water pipe is broken down the street and they need access to the basement), and while the homeowner is distracted, their accomplices are committing a burglary. They also drive the area looking for people working in their yards and subjects will enter your house through an unlocked door while the homeowner is unaware outside. Working in groups of two (2) or three (3), a woman and child will approach a homeowner and ask if the child can use the bathroom. The unsuspecting homeowner allows the child to use the bathroom and the woman will distract the homeowner while someone else enters the home and commits a burglary.

The Fremont Township Highway and Assessor’s employees all have ID’s, and unless there is an emergency do not work on weekends.

The Sheriff’s Office has received reports of Lake County residents getting fraudulent telephone calls from individuals representing themselves as someone from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Here are some safety tips for you to follow.

• Don’t give identifying or personal information to anyone over the telephone, unless you have confirmed who you are speaking with
• Don’t provide any payment information to anyone over the phone, unless you have initiated the conversation
• If you are unsure of a caller’s identity, ask for their name and callback number, then hang-up and verify their information via the Internet or telephone book
• If a caller is asking for someone who isn’t currently home, simply tell the caller they can’t come to the telephone (versus informing the caller you could be home alone)

For more information on scams visit www.lakecountyil.gov/sheriff.

New Credit Card Chip Technology Scam:  Recently, banks and credit card companies have been issuing new cards with embedded chip technology to help protect consumers, however scammers are taking advantage of the unknowns of these new cards. Scammers have been contacting consumers posing as banks and asking for personal and bank information to “set up” or “update” their account.
Be suspicious of these kinds of unsolicited emails or calls. If someone asks for this information, do not provide it, and call your bank at a legitimate number to check on your account. Also, scammers can make emails look real. Instead of clicking on links from an email, go directly to their website to log in instead.
Please pass this information along to family and friends not on facebook.

Microsoft Scam:  Microsoft tech support will never call you. They tell you they have been notified that your computer is sending out “error” messages, or you have some other vague technical problem that “needs to be fixed immediately.” They’ll even walk you through the process to fix it—how helpful!

The real problem, however, is that it isn’t Microsoft on the line at all; the company doesn’t call customers unsolicited, ever. If you followed the scammer’s instructions, you’d be downloading malware: a program to allow remote access to your computer, which includes your personal and financial information.

Grandparent Scams: Scammers contact victims claiming their grandchild is in some sort of trouble. They ask the grandparent to send money and not to tell anyone.

IRS or U.S. Treasury Scams: Scammers claiming to be an IRS agent and threatening to have victims arrested, deported or revocation of business and/or driver’s license, if immediate payment is not made.

Property Tax Scams: Scammers send letters in the mail claiming the County will take victims homes if they don’t pay the delinquent taxes on their property. In each Lake County case seen so far, the homeowner is paid in full and NOT delinquent on their taxes. If you receive one of these letters, you do not need to take any action if your taxes are paid in full. If you have any questions or want to check the status of your payment, you should call the Treasurer’s Office at 847.377.2323 or check on line at www.lakecountyil.gov/treasurer. DO NOT contact the person listed on the letter.

Deed Scams:  Some Lake County Residents have been receiving letters from a company calling themselves, “Local Records Office” in which the resident is told they can be provided with a copy of their deed by mailing in an $89 service fee! These letters ARE NOT from the Lake County Recorder of Deeds office and this is a SCAM! You can get a copy of your deed, or other recorded paperwork, from Mary Ellen Vanderventer, Recorder of Deeds office for $1 per page, or no fee if you are a Senior Citizen or US Veteran! Call 847 377-2575.

Jury Arrest Warrant Scams: Scammers contact victims advising victims they missed scheduled jury duty and a judge issued an arrest warrant. Scammers have even named judges sitting in the 23rd Circuit Court. Scammers claim to be “Captain Allen” and direct victims to obtain prepaid credit cards, call back and read the numbers off the prepaid credit cards to “settle” the warrant.

Warrant Scams: Scammers contact victims claiming an outstanding warrant for parking or driving violations is issued and must be paid immediately over the phone or an arrest is imminent.

FOP Scams: Scammers contact victims claiming to be from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Fraternal Order of Police. Any attempt made to solicit funds via telephone, mail or in person by anyone identifying themselves as a representative of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office should not be considered legitimate.

Bereavement Scams: Scammers scour the obituaries and contact victims who recently lost a loved- one claiming the deceased had unpaid bills or debts that must be paid right away.

Sweetheart Scams: The scammer befriends the victim online or in person and expresses romantic interest. While romancing the victim and earning their trust, the scammer may gain access to personal and financial information. Sometimes the scammer will ask the victim for emergency loans to pay off a bill or their rent. When the scam is over, the victim is left broke and broken-hearted.

ComEd:  ComEd has seen an increase in reports of individuals calling ComEd customers and falsely claiming their electric service will be disconnected unless payment is made. These impersonators instruct customers to buy a prepaid credit card and call back to a different phone number with the personal identification number (PIN) or other personal information. They also use a tactic called “spoofing” to manipulate the Caller ID displayed phone number so that it appears as a ComEd number.

Remember ComEd representatives will never call you to ask you for cash or request that you purchase a prepaid credit card to make a payment on your bill. If you have concerns about the status of your account, call ComEd’s Customer Service line at 1-800-334-7661(1-800-EDISON1).

If you believe you have been the target of a phone scam, ComEd urges you to contact the Illinois Attorney General’s office at1-800-386-5438.