Scams and Seniors
Fraud can happen to anyone, but some criminals target seniors. Scammers can target you anywhere - online, on the phone, in person or by mail. Stay safe by knowing the warning signs of fraud when selling or buying a home.
If you have recently lost a spouse and receive a call from someone claiming they owe debts, don’t give out your information. A debt collector would not ask for this information over the phone, and in most cases, you aren’t obligated to pay off your spouse’s debts.
Fake Calls from the IRS
You may get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, saying you owe money and need to pay it back immediately. If someone asks for money over the phone, hang up. Even if the caller has personal information about you, the IRS would never demand immediate payment over the phone. This person is likely a scammer.
Home Improvement Scams
If someone approaches your doorstep offering to repair something in or around your home, don’t let them in. Or, if they ask for money upfront, avoid doing business with them. They may take your money without ever coming back to make repairs.
How to Avoid Fraud
The best way to avoid being a victim of fraud is to be cautious about who you share your personal information with, and to monitor your finances. Check your tax statements and bank statements closely. You can also invest in a real estate monitoring service, which tracks property transfers or unauthorized liens in county public records. Similarly, credit monitoring services help protect you from identity theft.
What to do in a Fraudulent Situation
If you believe you’re a victim of fraud, contact your local authorities immediately. If you were misled into signing a fraudulent contract, you may need to get a lawyer. Other resources you can turn to include:
Filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office Senior Citizens Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-243-5377 or 1-800-964-3013.
The Illinois Department on Aging Senior HelpLine at 217-524-6911.