Mahan: Protecting yourself against financial scams

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, February 17, 2017 8:59 am

As a former sheriff, I believe educating people on how to protect themselves against crime is important. Recently, Indiana has been experiencing an increase in cases related to phone scams. While crimes like this can have devastating consequences for the victims, there are proactive steps you can take to prevent and decrease the likelihood of being a victim. There are also services available to provide assistance to the victims of these crimes.

Sadly, senior citizens and adults with disabilities are often the targets of abuse and financial exploitation. Until recently, there were not many legal services available to these victims. Thankfully, Indiana Legal Services has created a new program to provide more resources to all Hoosiers, but especially those who are most at risk. The Legal Assistance for Victimized Adults (LAVA) project was established earlier this year, thanks to a grant provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

LAVA provides senior citizens and adults with disabilities legal representation when they have experienced exploitation, neglect or abuse. Their primary mission is to offer legal assistance to victims that have been taken advantage of, helping them recover from devastating crimes committed against them. The attorneys working for LAVA are able to file civil actions and protective orders on behalf of the victims and work toward recovering money lost as a result of scams or exploitation. LAVA is also able to fill in the gaps and provide services that Adult Protective Services is unable to provide.

Phone scams are one of the most common ways that Hoosiers are being targeted. Recently, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced a telephone privacy campaign to raise awareness about and combat scams. Hoosiers can register with the office of the Indiana Attorney General to be put on the state’s Do Not Call list that will be distributed to telemarketers. Joining the Do Not Call list is free and will decrease the likelihood of being contacted by a telemarketer. However, it is not a guarantee that you will not be contacted. Keeping this in mind, it’s vital that you be vigilant when handling calls from an unknown number. If you receive a call from a number you don’t recognize, the best advice is don’t pick up.  

Many times, phone scams can be convincing and difficult to detect. Scammers often call and impersonate companies, such as your electric company, to get individuals to divulge sensitive information, including social security numbers and bank account information. If you are skeptical of a call you receive, tell the person on the phone that you will call them back and use the phone number listed on your bill or other reputable source. 

The next deadline to sign up for the Do Not Call list is May 16. You can visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 1-800-382-5516 to be added to the Do Not Call List or to file a complaint.

It is important to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your family from these kinds of financial scams. The most important step you can take is to become familiar with and utilize the services that are available to you in order to reduce the likelihood of being targeted. If there is any way I can be of help to you in these situations, please do not hesitate reaching out to my office at 317-234-9499 or h31@iga.in.gov

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State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents

portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.

A high-resolution photo of Mahan can be downloaded by clicking here.