Area seniors learn how to avoid scams

Sep 4, 2013

A Peoria lawmaker is making sure area seniors are prepared to avoid common scams. Republican State Senator Darin LaHood held a clinic for the elderly on fraud prevention strategies and ways to save money on utility bills.

Caitlyn Smith is a community outreach liaison for the Illinois Attorney General’s office. She says there are some tips seniors should follow to avoid scams over the phone, mail, and internet:

"With the phone, it's best if it's someone you don't know to hang up and call someone you trust to verify information. Never give out information. Never send out money without first verifying where you're sending it. With mailings, it's important to realize that there's no such thing as free sweepstakes, (or) winning a lottery from a country you have never been to. And then the biggest piece of advice for the internet is just don't give out information unless you are sure it's coming from a reliable source."

Smith says the most common scam is called the Grandparents Scam. That’s when someone calls a senior claiming to be a family member in trouble and in need of money. Smith says scams on the internet are also becoming prevalent, but are harder to track. The clinic also included time for seniors to find out if they could save money on their electric, gas, and phone bills through the Citizens Utility board.