Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul urged citizens to be on alert for phone scams in which callers pose as representatives of law enforcement or public utilities in order to con people into sending money.
Raoul encouraged people to be vigilant of scams in light of recent reports of criminals impersonating representatives of the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Illinois State Police (ISP) and public utilities. Raoul also cautioned people to be aware of similar scams via email.
The recent phone scams involved scammers “spoofing” phone numbers, causing caller ID devices to display what appears to be a legitimate call from the SSA, the ISP or a utility.
Scam artists claim they are collecting on a phony debt and instruct their targets to make cash or gift card payments, wire transfers or provide confidential personal information in order to avoid losing benefits, being arrested or having their utilities shut off.
In addition to phone scams, Raoul said SSA officials recently warned people of email scams in which recipients get emails that include attachments that appear to be on official letterhead in order to look more legitimate. Raoul urged people not to open emails claiming to be from the SSA and promising a benefit approval or increase in exchange for information or money.
Raoul also reminded people to be vigilant for other electronic crimes that include romance scams, in which scammers target victims on dating websites, apps and social media sites.
Online dating scammers often tell victims that they live far away, sometimes outside of the U.S., and need money for travel expenses to visit the victim or to pay for medical expenses or other “unexpected” bills.
State agencies will not call or contact taxpayers via phone unless the taxpayer has made an initial contact. Consumers receiving a call from someone purporting to be from a state agency pr utility should verify it, and they should contact the agency by using a phone number on the agency’s website.
To report a scam, call the Illinois attorney general’s consumer fraud hotline at (800) 386-5438.