Stealing someone’s identity to buy everything from cars, consumer goods, and mortgages, while leaving the victim’s credit rating in ruins is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. The Bartlett Police Department can offer tips and information that will keep you from becoming a victim of Identity theft.
For further information, please visit the following web sites:
Federal Trade Commission - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
U.S. Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html
Social Security Administration - http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/idtheft.htm
IRS Phone Scam
Residents should be aware of an IRS scam involving callers claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service and demanding immediate payments with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These callers sometimes also threaten arrest or deportation.
In most circumstances, the IRS generally contacts taxpayers first by mail or with personal visits from field agents. It does not accept credit card information by phone.
Please contact the Bartlett Police Department if you fell victim to this latest telephone scam.
Cell Phone & Computer Scam Alerts for Residents
Bartlett residents are being warned about two recent scams that have been reported to the police department. Several residents have received calls from international telephone numbers on their cellular phones. The caller will ring your cellular telephone number and then immediately disconnect, hoping that you are curious enough to redial the missed number. If the cell phone owner returns the call, they are often charged an international calling rate of $19.95.
Other residents have reported receiving a telephone call from someone claiming to work for Microsoft and warning them about a virus on their computer. The caller then offers to remove the virus and asks you to authorize remote access to your computer. Once the scammer has accessed your computer, they can install malicious software, steal personal information or direct you to fraudulent websites.
Gypsy Scam AwarenessThe Bartlett Police Department would like to warn residents of common Gypsy scams involving individuals who pose as utility workers or contractors. Offenders have been known to show up at a residence unannounced and inform the homeowner that they need to measure the property line due to some type of construction project or they need to perform unscheduled work or check on something inside the residence. The individuals will then distract the homeowner or take the homeowner to a remote area of the property while an accomplice enters the residence to steal the homeowner’s valuables.
*72 Call Forwarding Prison/Jail Scam
According to AT&T, the *72 telephone scam involves the illegal practice of forwarding a customer's incoming calls without permission. Generally, a prison or jail inmate will call a residence and ask the victim to immediately call a police department using a telephone number which begins with the prefix *72 because a family member was involved in a serious traffic accident. This activates the customer's *72 call forwarding feature and gives the caller access to the customer's phone line. Ultimately, the customer is billed for the forwarded calls, which include additional collect or long distance charges. If you receive a call seeking assistance and asking you to dial numbers, be very leery. Educate family members not to accept collect calls from someone they don't know and not to follow instructions given by a caller they are unfamiliar with.
If a residential customer believes that they have been a victim to the *72 scam, they should first dial *73 to deactivate the call forwarding feature. Any suspicious telephone calls should be immediately reported to the Bartlett Police Department.
According to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam involves the illegal practice of defrauding money and gaining personal information from consumers by claiming the recipient has won a lottery or sweepstakes, often using the name of a well-known sweepstakes company. This type of notice usually arrives by regular mail, telephone or an unsolicited e-mail.
The scam usually involves a common form of check fraud. The victim will generally obtain a phony prize check in the mail or receive a telephone call or email from someone who claims the victim won a large sum of money, a vehicle, or another type of prize. In order to claim the prize, the scam artist generally instructs the victim to send or wire money or obtain a Green Dot-MoneyPak card for taxes, processing fees, and advanced fees. You usually do not discover the check or money order is fake or counterfeit until after it is deposited or cashed at a financial institution and your money is sent or wired back to the person involved in the scam.
Do not believe that a check or money order must be good if the bank accepts it for deposit and makes the funds available to you. The person involved in the scam usually uses high quality printers and scanners to make the checks or money orders official looking. The counterfeit checks and money orders are often printed with the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions and authentic looking watermarks. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan noted, “making the funds available to you is not the same as confirming that the check is authentic. It takes days, even a week or more, for a bank to determine that a check is a forgery.”
Residents should avoid sending payment to unknown business through a wire transfer such as Western Union because it is difficult to track and nearly impossible to recover stolen funds sent this way. Residents should also exercise caution when using Green Dot-Money Pak cards to pay individuals they do not know, especially when they ask for the Green Dot-Money Pak authorization serial number.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of a lottery or prize/sweepstakes scam, residents should always remember they cannot win a legitimate lottery unless they entered a contest or purchased a ticket.
Here are some suggestions to prevent being a victim of a lottery/sweepstakes scam:
- Sweepstakes & lotteries do not notify winners by email or regular mail. You would be notified by certified mail.
- Winners do not need to pay fees to claim their prizes
- Taxes on sweepstakes & lottery winnings are not paid through the sweepstakes or lottery company.
- It is illegal to buy or sell lottery tickets across the U.S. border. You can’t purchase a foreign lottery ticket without traveling to that country to do so.
- Sweepstakes or lotteries do not give winners checks or money orders as advances on their prizes
- Verify the sweepstake’s company information from directory assistance and call them directly to verify. Do not trust the company or financial institution information provided by the person who sent you the lottery or sweepstakes information.
One issue that is continually brought to the attention of the Bartlett Police Department is fundraising attempts through telephone solicitation of residents and businesses. Many of these fundraisers will imply that the Bartlett Police Department in some way benefits from the donation. In fact it does not. The Bartlett Police Department does not authorize nor does it want any organization to solicit on its behalf. The department is funded through municipal taxes and fees that are authorized and budgeted by the Village of Bartlett Board of Trustees.
If a fundraiser states that they represent the Bartlett Police Department, you are asked to please file a formal police report so their claim can be fully investigated. When reporting these solicitations, residents are asked to provide as much information as possible, including the name of the person calling, the name and address of the organization, and any telephone numbers provided. Illinois law requires paid fundraisers to identify themselves as such and to name the organization for which they are soliciting. The solicitations can be reported to the Bartlett Police Department by calling (630) 837-0846 or by sending an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In some cases, organizations, such as the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police, may in fact have individual members of the Bartlett Police Department as members of their organization. However no one at the Bartlett Police Department has given consent to or hired telemarketers to solicit funds on behalf of the department. The decision to solicit funds through this type of telemarketing is being made by persons outside of our community.
Be assured that the Bartlett Police receives no direct benefit from these solicitations nor would it accept any. The department has received complaints that some telemarketers not only imply that they are the Bartlett Police, but that donating will somehow improve the donor’s service level. This could not be further from the truth. The Bartlett Police Department prides itself on the high level of service it provides to all residents.
The Bartlett Police Department appreciates the support of our residents and business owners, but asks that if you choose to donate to a soliciting organization you do so based on your personal preference and choice and not because you feel pressured or swayed by the implication that the money will find its way to the local police officer or police department.
To learn more about Illinois laws regarding charitable solicitations, you may also visit the Illinois Attorney General’s Office website at: www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.