Residents hear of credit, phone scams


by BRIAN NADIG

The importance of checking credit reports of children and teaching consumers to hang up the phone when they receive suspicious calls phone demanding money were stressed at the Jan. 28 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.

Illinois Attorney General’s Office community outreach liaison Lizveth Mendez said at the meeting that there have been instances in which college students applied for a credit card and learned that their identity had been stolen years earlier. Consumers should check their credit report at least once a year because the sooner identity theft is discovered the easier it is for victims to get their credit restored, Mendez said.

"Be proactive, and if something happens, we can work you through the process," Mendez said. The attorney general office’s toll-free identity theft hotline for victims is 866-999-5630.

Mendez recommended that victims file a police report and place a fraud alert on their credit report. A fraud alert notifies potential creditors to contact the consumer to verify his or her identity before approving a new credit request, such as a loan or credit card.

Consumers also can have a security freeze placed on their credit report, Mendez said. A freeze will prevent a credit report from being released and prohibit new lines of credit being issued in the consumer’s name unless the consumer provides the agency with a personal identification number, which is provided to the consumer after the free request is made.

Mendez also warned of a recent scam in which a thief calls the victim and claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service. In once instance a woman believed that she owed the IRS money and paid the caller $36,000, she said.

Consumers should hang up the phone immediately when they receive suspicious calls because the longer they stay on the phone the more likely they will fall victim, Mendez said. She warned that thieves will ask for funds to be sent via a wire transfer because it is extremely difficult for law enforcement agencies to reclaim money that was wired.

Another common scam involves the caller telling the victim that they owe a fine because they missed jury duty, Mendez said.

Also at the meeting, association board member Ron Ernst reported that John Garrido was the only 45th Ward aldermanic candidate to sign a pledge agreeing not to "upzone" a vacant parcel at Long Avenue and Argyle Street, where a 48-unit apartment complex has been proposed.

Ernst said that members of the association’s Zoning and Development Committee also presented the pledge to the other candidates, Alderman John Arena, Michelle Baert and Michael Diaz. He said that Baert plans to leave all decisions up to a community vote, Arena took the pledge request under advisement, and Diaz has not gotten back to the association after an initial discussion on the issue.

Association members also expressed concern about several gravel parking lots in the Jefferson Park commercial district. In the past 10 years several development proposals for the properties have been made, but each plan ha been dropped.

It also was announced that vendors and volunteers are needed for the Jefferson Park "Sunday Market" which will be held the second and fourth Sundays of the month from June to October at Jefferson Park, 4822 N. Long Ave. Those interested are asked to send an e-mail to jeffersonparksundaymarket@zoho.com.

The association’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.


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