At the request of several community groups and residents, we are re-posting safety tips on how to be on the look out for “door-to-door scammers”. As always, let the police and my office know if you ever witness any suspicious behavior or folks you feel are not from a legitimate sales or utility company.
Practice “stranger danger” and always ask who is at the door or look through the peephole. If it is a stranger, or someone unexpected, ask to see ID. Those with good intentions will have no problem showing you identification.
Do not give anyone your key. Always be home while a stranger is working in your home, i.e. making repairs.
If you rent, ask your landlord or building manager to inform you ahead of time of any work or services that need to be done inside your unit. You should not find out about work needing to be done only when the worker is at your door.
Do not feel uncomfortable telling someone that they are not welcome in your home. They may be persistent about needed to get in a fix something, but if you did not know they were coming, do not let them in.
Contact your Alderman’s office about poorly lit areas that make your neighborhood unsafe and provide “lurking zones” for offenders. “Scammers” take advantage of these areas when looking to commit crimes.
My office has received some calls regarding potential “scams” by offenders posing as utility workers. It is important to be aware of any unexpected visitors, and to always be on the look-out for people trying to take advantage of you or your home.
Did you know that in many instances, stealing someone’s house can be easier than stealing a car? According to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, Karen A. Yarbrough, all it takes is someone filing a fraudulent transfer of ownership document with her office.
Savvy fraudsters often target elderly persons who live in paid-for homes, and who have no heirs. This allows the criminal to take out a mortgage or sell the home outright once the owner dies.
Though the documents may be fake, the damage is real because the homeowner must get a court order (at their own expense) to have the fake document removed. Until this happens, the true owner will be unable to refinance or sell their home.
She recently helped pass a new state law creating an expedited judicial review process to remove fraudulent recordings and there is also a tool available now that can alert you when a document is recorded against your property’s 14-digit Property Identification Number (found on your property tax bill).
Their free Property Fraud Alert will trigger a phone call or email to you when a new document is recorded, so that you can investigate further. Getting this alert will help you to take immediate action, before the criminal uses the fraudulent document to take out a loan against your home.
Signup is easy, free and your information is never used for anything other than the Alert. Best of all, you can monitor multiple properties, allowing people to monitor the homes of their older parents and relatives. You can sign up online at www.cookrecorder.com, or by calling 800-728-3858.
If you suspect property fraud or have questions about signing up, please call the Cook county Recorder of Deeds Property Fraud Unit at 312-603-4000. For more information, please click here for a flyer.
When preparing your annual income tax returns, please be mindful of potential scams, individuals and companies that may try to take advantage of you.
Identity theft is a common crime that causes victims sometimes years of headache and frustration, not to mention often thousands of dollars. Follow these tips below to help prevent your identity from getting into the wrong hands.