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Keeping ID thieves away

Residents in Onondaga County are not immune to identity theft or consumer fraud.

Since residents here are just as likely to be frauded as they are elsewhere, Assistant Attorney General Juanita Williams was invited to talk to members of the Skaneateles Sunrise Rotary Club and the public Thursday morning at the Hilltop Restaurant.

According to Williams, the number one presentation the Attorney General's office does is on identity theft.

"Identity theft is a segment of consumer fraud," she said. "We've become a world that gives out information all the time."

Some might ask, what is identity theft? In a nutshell, it's someone or an entity taking your information and using it -- your name, Social Security number and credit, just to name a few things.

There are more than 1,000 complaints filed every day and 40 percent of those complaints are from senior citizens.

"They prey on senior citizens," Williams said. "We know senior citizens are giving out Social Security numbers, some are sending in checks."

Recently some Wegmans stores in Onondaga County had an issue with the $1 movie rental machines that are frequently found in the store's entryways. Thieves were using an electronic mechanism that stored credit card information each time a user swiped their card.

"It's prevalent in Onondaga County," Williams said.

And it isn't just about having your credit card stolen these days. Individuals are also victim to having their information sold without their consent. If you've gotten a call from someone trying to sell you a car warranty, it's likely those people bought your information.

"We're seeing a lot of fraudulent phone calls," Williams said. "They get you to provide more information."

Fraudulent phone calls can come in many forms, but one that might catch people off guard is the "bank call." The person calling you already has enough information to convince you they are your bank, but will ask you to confirm other vital information, thereby giving them access to your identity.

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