Jason Leviskas, Public Affairs Manager from Ill State Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger's office.

Jason Leviskas, Public Affairs Manager from Ill State Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger’s office.

By Jean Seegers – REPORTER

Identity theft is becoming increasingly common in today’s world. Even so, there is much that can be done to prevent the problem from occurring. Stateline Chamber hosted a seminar for members on Sept. 29, at North Pointe Wellness Center intended to help individuals and businesses learn how to recognize scams, what to do when it occurs and steps to prevent identity fraud.

Jason Leviskas, Public Affairs Manager from Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger’s office, offered many tips on avoiding scams. According to Leviskas, there are several ways your identity can be stolen:  dumpster diving; skimming; stealing your wallet or mail; smart phones; radio frequency; social media;  phishing; identification chips and social media.  “Be careful what you share on facebook.” “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Leviskas said. Among the scams and frauds out there today are: home repair fraud, friendly fraud (identity stolen by a personal acquaintance), tax and Government fraud, IRS refund scams, ransomware (malicious software) skimmer fraud, fake check scams, help wanted scams, home repair fraud, lottery prizes and charity scams. Leviskas offered some tips on medical fraud:  “Medicare doesn’t call or try to sell you anything. Don’t carry your medical card with you all the time. Make a copy of it and a copy of that copy blacking out all but the last four digits of your number.” He advised not to carry your social security card. “If you are asked to produce it, ask why, how it will be used and how it is stored. Don’t give anything other than the last four digits.” “If you suspect fraud or your information is lost or stolen, contact the Fraud Alert at www.mymedicare.gov. Fraud Alert is good for 90 days and is free. Leviskas advised using a credit card instead of a debit card when on-line shopping, and do not save credit card information to your profile. For security, look for HTTPS and a padlock. Change your password often. He suggested using a phrase or sentence typical to you. “Don’t open pop-ups, don’t click on unfamiliar emails. If they ask for money, don’t click on anything.  Close down your computer.”

“A credit freeze is different,” Leviskas said. “It lets creditors know if someone applies for credit in your name. Use credit freeze if you are a victim.” He advised victims to contact the three credit bureaus:  Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.,  P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374, 888-766-0008.

TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Dept., P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834, 800-680-7289.

Experian, P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX  75013.

Cost of the credit freeze is $10 per report if you are under the age of 65.  Free for anyone over 65 years of age.

According to a report by the Comptroller’s Office, over 140,000 children’s identities are stolen each year.  This crime can go unnoticed for a long time due to the age of the victim.

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