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  2008 Press Releases  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2008

Department on Aging Warns of Scams Against Seniors
Reports of telephone scams could heighten during Holiday Season

CHICAGO – Scam artists are always looking for more ways to take advantage and this holiday season is no different. But, Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson advises con artists that the State is cracking down on people who take advantage of seniors. Last year, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation to increase penalties for financial exploitation of senior citizens. And earlier this year, the Governor signed HB 4506 intended to improve protections for seniors from mistreatment and harm in Illinois. The financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability is a felony.

"I get upset when I hear about people trying to prey on seniors. I want to remind seniors and anyone else not to be tricked – into putting money in an envelope nor to wire money – after receiving a call from someone you think may be a loved one. Be cautious of anyone asking your personal information over the phone. Earlier this summer, we warned about another scam to get senior’s economic stimulus checks. If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, call police to report it," said Director Johnson.

Chicago Police have reported people are telephoning seniors claiming to work for the bank. The scammers say they are conducting an investigation and ask seniors to help the investigation by withdrawing money from their account. Another reported scam occurs when someone calls often claiming to be the grandchild. The con artist explains they’ve been in an accident or are unexpectedly out of town without their cash and need money wired in order to get home safely.

Reports to police and news media have been documented from people who fell for the hoax and others who nearly fell for the trick. It's unclear how the scam artists get the seniors’ numbers, so the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) suggest families talk about this latest hoax. Families may set a plan on how to handle calls in the event they receive the phony calls. Setting up a code word or telling the caller to give them a number to reach them may help determine whether or not a call is actually from a scam artist.

For more information about program services to assist older adults in Illinois and their caregivers, contact the Department on Aging Senior HelpLine.

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