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Attorney General Urges Consumers to Understand Smart Meter Data, its Benefits and Potential Pitfalls

Smart_Meter_Data_Collection_Brochure_Page_1Smart meters are being installed at homes across Illinois to modernize how the state’s electricity utilities, including ComEd and Ameren, measure electricity usage. These meters digitally record information that may help consumers better understand their energy usage habits. In turn, the utility companies can use the data to offer special pricing programs to those customers who are able to closely monitor their usage and change their energy habits.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan offers a few important points about smart meters:

m A “smart meter” is a wireless device that digitally records how much electricity you use in short intervals, providing a precise look at your energy usage habits.

m Having a smart meter does not – on its own – lower your electricity usage or lower your electricity bill.

m The data provided by a smart meter can only lower your electricity costs if you first learn how to read the data, then take the time to monitor your electricity usage and ultimately change your energy usage habits.

m ComEd and Ameren are not allowed to share your smart meter data with alternative electricity suppliers or other third parties unless you sign an authorization allowing them to do so.

m If you have a smart meter, an alternative electricity supplier may contact you by phone, by mail, or in person to persuade you to sign an authorization form and share your smart meter data for the previous two years, and for the next two years.

m Beware that signing an authorization to provide smart meter data may lead to solicitations from alternative electricity suppliers about programs that may or may not reduce your electricity bill.

m It is entirely up to you whether you share any smart meter data with any third party.

m If you decide to share your smart meter data, an alternative electricity supplier will have access to it until your service ends or for six months after you sign the authorization, whichever occurs later.

m If you are thinking of sharing smart meter data with an alternative electricity supplier, consider the following:

  • Smart meter data can reveal details about your life. Spikes in electricity use may indicate when you are home, while low use may indicate you are not home.
  • Only sign an authorization form if you are comfortable sharing your name, account number, and electricity data. Be sure you understand how to terminate your authorization if you change your mind.
     
  • You may revoke your authorization at any time.

Please remember, if you received an unsolicited telephone call or visit from an alternative electricity provider you do not have to provide any information or authorize access or changes to your service. Please don't hesitate to contact the Lake Forest Police Department or the Illinois Attorney General if you have any concerns.

March 25, 2016 - Press Release from Attorney General Madigan
Getting Smart About Smart Meters Brochure

 

Protecting Older Americans Against Fraud

Fighting_Fraud_Booklet

If you feel you may be a victim of fraud, please don’t hesitate to call the Lake Forest Police at 847-234-2601
or 911.

Our nation’s seniors worked hard their entire lives and saved for retirement. Unfortunately, there are many criminals who target them and seek to rob them of their hard-earned savings.

Far too many older Americans are being financially exploited by strangers over the telephone, through the mail, and, increasingly, online. Worse yet, these seniors may also be targeted by family members or by people they trust. Many of these crimes are not reported because the victims are afraid that the perpetrator may retaliate, the victims are embarrassed that they have been scammed, or sometimes simply because victims are unsure about which law enforcement or consumer protection agency they should contact. Additionally, some seniors do not realize they have been the victims of fraud.

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has made consumer protection and fraud prevention a major focus of its work. In recent years, the Committee has held hearings examining telephone scams, tax-related schemes, Social Security fraud, and the implications of payday loans and pension advances for seniors, among other issues. The Committee launched a toll-free Fraud Hotline: 1-855-303-9470. By serving as a resource for seniors and others affected by scams, the Hotline has helped increase reporting and awareness of consumer fraud. For full report, click here.
 

Scams

Warmer weather seems to increase the number of scam complaints from citizens. The end of winter and beginning of spring and summer creates a great time for fraudsters to prey on unsuspecting homeowners. Very often, criminals will use various tactics to scheme money out of homeowners. For example: a driveway sealer who has leftover material and can offer a cut-rate deal since they are already in the area; a roofer working in the area who noticed your roof is in decline; a concrete company offering low cost repairs on your patio or sidewalk; any of these examples or others in which they insist on being paid in cash. If you did not contact a business for a particular service, beware! Very often these fraudsters will give an appearance of doing work, but in most cases, the work and materials are sub-par and the workers will be long gone before you realize how shoddy the work is.
 
Other scams to be aware of involve distraction techniques by one person which allows other in their crew to enter your home and burglarize you belongings while you are in another part of the house or property. Be cautious of these ruse tactics and suspicious of utility workers who need access to your home without prior notification: tree trimmers who request you accompany them to the back yard to inspect a "dead" tree (especially with the publicity surrounding the Emerald Ash Borer concerns); any type of service personnel who arrive unannounced and offer services you haven't requested. Many of these scammers process official-looking identification cards and uniforms. Legitimate workers will not balk at you calling to verify their authenticity. Be sure to look up the company phone number yourself, never call a number provided by the worker!
If you are approached by any of these types of persons and aren’t sure of their intentions, please don’t hesitate to call the Lake Forest Police at 847-234-2601 or 911 or the utility company to verify the legitimacy of the contact. For more information please see:

http://livingonthecheap.com/avoid-home-repair-scams-check-the-bbbe-a-check/
http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-08-2011/home-repair-scam-alert.html

http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/index.html

 

Vacant Home

Homeowners may notify the Police Department when their home will be vacant for an extended period of time due to vacation or other circumstances. Simply contact the department at the non-emergency number 847-234-2601. Be prepared to give the following information:
  • Your name, address and telephone number
  • Dates of departure and return
  • What lights will be left on
  • The name, address and telephone number of anyone who has a key for your house or who will be checking on your residence.

 

Voluntary Weapons Turn-In

The Lake Forest Police Department administers a Voluntary Weapons Turn-In Program where residents can turn firearms, weapons, old ammunition and fireworks into the Police Department for destruction.
The purpose of the Weapons Turn-In Program is to reduce the likelihood of a tragic accident involving a firearm occurring within a residence in Lake Forest, especially involving a child. Any resident possessing a firearm or other weapon they no longer desire to own can drop it off at the Public Safety Building anytime day or night.
 
All firearms being dropped off should be unloaded.
 
Should a resident feel unsafe or uncomfortable about attempting to unload or transport a firearm for destruction should call the non-emergency police telephone number at
847-234-2601 and request that a police officer respond to pick up the firearm.

THE CITY OF LAKE FOREST
220 E. Deerpath, Lake Forest, IL 60045
(847) 234-2600
Non-Emergency Police:  (847) 234-2601

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