Public invited to identity theft prevention forums

By: Sarah Wojcik, | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 11, 2015

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, will host two town hall meetings with identity theft experts from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments to protect residents from fraud.

With the holidays coming up, Lucido said, many people are more vulnerable to fraud because they have a lot on their minds while using credit cards. The forums, he said, will provide people with helpful tips to avoid having to rebuild their identities.

The first meeting will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Washington Township Hall, located at 57900 Van Dyke Ave., north of 26 Mile Road. The second meeting will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at Shelby Township Hall, located at 52700 Van Dyke Ave., south of 24 Mile Road.

 Peter Lucido

Peter Lucido

The free presentations are geared for families and seniors. No reservations are necessary.

“I don’t want people getting caught up with frauds, scams and shysters that are out there attacking people because they use credit cards during the holiday season,” Lucido said. “They are buying things, and people are taking their information either through the Internet, the telephone or electronics.”

The experts, he said, will give residents tips, such as asking phone operators for proof of credibility and not leaving packages in clear sight in vehicles.

Lucido said Romeo Police Chief Gregory Paduch and a Shelby Township Police Department detective will  be on hand at the Washington Township and Shelby Township meetings, respectively, to discuss local instances of fraud.

“The meetings are a great first defense from getting your identity stolen, and the experts are there to answer questions,” Lucido said. “It will be short, quick, easy, painless, and I hope we get a great turnout.”

Lt. Detective Jason Schmittler, of the Shelby Township Police Department, said incidents of fraud involving seniors are on the decrease, as well as instances of tax and IRS scams.

“A lot of suspects get your info by dumpster diving and stealing the mail out of the mailbox,” Schmittler said. “The high-tech criminals use (credit card) skimmers, malware and RFIDs (radio frequency identification).”

He said criminals are able to spoof numbers to make it seem like their calls are from legitimate sources, and many scam attempts originate out of the country.

Protecting passwords, putting up firewalls, installing anti-virus software, downloading only from trusted sites and shredding statements can all reduce fraud, he said.

“You’ve just got to be aware,” Schmittler said. “Anytime somebody promises you a large return for a small sum of money now, it should be a big red flag.”

For more information about the town hall meetings, call (517) 373-0843 or email peterlucido@house.mi.gov.