RYE, N.Y. -- New York State Assistant Attorney General Gary Brown recently gave a talk about consumer protection against identity theft and fraud at the Rye Rotary Club's weekly meeting at the Coveleigh Club.
"The goal is to avoid becoming a victim in the first place," said Brown, who is in charge of the Westchester Regional Office in White Plains.
Brown focused his talk on preventative measures to avoid identity theft and detailed typical methods practiced by scam artists to obtain personal information.
"If you keep receipts in your wallet or purse, you're basically carrying a file cabinet of personal transactions," said Brown. "If an identity thief should ever get a hold of that information, they're going to have a field day."
He also advised people not to carry credit cards that they don't normally use and to keep checkbooks at home.
The other portion of his talk focused on common scams.
"A good con artist will follow a certain pattern that involves a psychological hook," said Brown.The three most common hooks he said manipulated people's greed, good will or fear.
He gave an example of a woman who had approached homeowners door-to-door offering lower-interest rate mortgages and was able to get them to sign away the deeds to their homes without even knowing it.
Another example involved a man posing as a scientist who claimed he was testing tap water for toxins, and selling $35 filters to people at a price of $1,500 after convincing them their water was contaminated. The price, of course, was a "deal" compared to the $2,000 they would have to pay if they waited, or so he had them believe.Brown said that senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable groups targeted by scam artists, but that everyone can benefit from educating themselves."I hope I'm not helping you become the next generation of scam artists," Brown told the room of Rotarians. "But helping you all to avoid becoming victims."
Learn more about avoiding identity theft at www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/consumer_frauds/identity_theft.html.
Have you or anyone you know been a victim of identity theft? What advice to you have to protect your personal information?
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