Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady helped connect residents with valuable consumer fraud-prevention resources  at Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park, on Wednesday, Aug.17. (Supplied photos)

Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady helped connect residents with valuable consumer fraud-prevention resources at Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park, on Wednesday, Aug.17. (Supplied photos)

Orland Township sponsors fraud prevention seminar

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By Kelly White

Fraud prevention is the implementation of a plan to detect fraudulent transactions or banking actions. The goal is to prevent these actions from causing financial and reputational damage to the customer and financial institution.

Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady helped connect residents with valuable consumer fraud-prevention resources by co-hosting the Illinois Attorney General’s office with state Representative Frances Hurley and state Senator Bill Cunningham at Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park, on Wednesday, Aug.17.

“We hope that a critical state service like this will protect seniors and help them feel more valued and safer in our communities,” Cunningham said.

The Fraud Prevention Seminar was inspired by the need to keep older adults in the community informed of and aware of ongoing scams and how to detect them, according to Orland Township officials.

“It’s an unfortunate truth that senior citizens are the biggest victims of fraud,” O’Grady said. “Our hope was that this seminar did a fantastic job at helping educate residents and combat fraud more effectively. It’s important to educate the public to lessen the financial losses and personal anguish that comes with being a victim of these crimes.”

During the free seminar, residents were able to learn about a variety of topics that help protect them from consumer fraud, including telecommunications scams, government scams and identity theft.

Telecommunications fraud, also known as telco fraud or telecom fraud, includes any kind of activity designed to abuse and gain an advantage of people by using deception. This scam often involves a phone call or an email asking for personal or credit card information.

In government impersonation scams, scammers call unsuspecting older adults and pretend to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration, or Medicare. They may say the victim has unpaid taxes and threaten arrest or deportation if they don’t pay up immediately. Or they may say Social Security or Medicare benefits will be cut off if the victim doesn’t provide personal identifying information.

Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable information such as a person’s Social Security or driver’s license numbers, to impersonate someone them. Once this information is obtained, the scammer might pretend to be the person and make fraudulent charges to their banking or credit cards.

“With the increase in fraud, I believe senior citizens are targeted due to their lack of knowledge and information regarding fraud,” Alexandria Shipyor, Public Relations Coordinator for Orland Township, said. “For example, most seniors are usually unfamiliar with the latest technology and therefore would be confused by the legitimacy of an email, website, or link that would appear to be safe, but is actually a scam.”

The most common financial scams targeting older people include government impersonation scams, sweepstakes scams, and robocall scams. Scams targeting older adults are on the rise. In 2021, there were 92,371 older victims of fraud across the United States, resulting in $1.7 billion in losses, according to the National Council on Aging.

“One way that residents can protect themselves from fraud include getting educated on what is and isn’t fraud, which they can do by researching current trends themselves or asking a trusted family member, friend, or a senior support service,” Shipyor said.

Township officials said scams can happen to anyone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of if a person has become a victim.

Residents are reminded to keep handy the phone numbers of resources that can help, including the local police, banks (if money has been taken from personal accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/ProtectionAdvocacy/pages/abuse.aspx.

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Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady helped connect residents with valuable consumer fraud-prevention resources at Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park, on Wednesday, Aug.17.

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