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Current Scam Information
Scam-Alert.pngHere's a brief rundown of some of the latest scams that are floating around.  Much of the information has been obtained from the Federal Trade Commission Scam Alerts web page.

Affordable Care Act Twist to IRS Scams

Here's one of the newest twists to the IRS scams!  This one involves scammers emailing attachments that are fraudulent CP2000 tax documents relating to the Affordable Care Act.  The email will include a payment address and a payment link. The IRS DOES NOT send these tax documents via email, but rather though the USPS.
 (Posted 10/18/16)

iTunes Gift Cards

Here's the latest angle that scammers are using to get you to pay them. They might ask you send them iTunes gift cards as payment. Read more. 
 (Posted 5/11/16, 7/7/16)

Scammers Also Target College Students
No age group is immune from being a potential target for a scammer. College students are also being contacted and told that they owe a "federal student tax" - which doesn't exist. As with other phone scams, give them nothing and hang up. Read more.
 (Posted 5/30/16)

An Alarming Phone Call
A Vernon Hills resident called to tell us she had received a phone call from a woman claiming to be with a (generic sounding) security company. The caller said that there had been a lot of false alarms and started asking questions about her home security system including her security code. Our resident said nothing and hung up. She asked us to pass her experience along. With pleasure - and thank you for sharing! We want everyone to do what she did - hang up! The criminal behind those calls might just be sizing up your home. Even worse, you might inadvertently tell the caller that you don't have a security system, which is obviously the last thing to tell a stranger over the phone.
 (Posted 4/28/16)

ComEd Scam Also Targets Businesses
We've gotten calls from a couple small Vernon Hills businesses have received a call from someone claiming to be from ComEd. The caller stated that ComEd is owed money and that if it is not paid (via pre-paid card) the power will be shut off in 30 minutes. If you know of a small business owner/manager, please share this with them. If such a call is received, give them nothing and hang up! If for some reason you have reason to question it, look up the number yourself and call ComEd. 
 (Posted 4/18/16)

It's OK To Be Rude
This article from the FTC 
sums it all up perfectly. 
 (Posted 4/23/15, 4/5/16)

Your Email Has Been Hacked - Trust Us!
You've probably heard about the phone calls that some people receive in which the caller claims that the victim's computer is being "taken over" and that the caller can fix it. All that need is payment AND remote access to your computer.

Lately, some people have received calls from someone claiming to be from the Global Privacy Enforcement Network. The caller says that your email has been hacked and that they will have to take enforcement action, unless you let them fix the problem immediately. The callers have gone so far as to give out the phone numbers to real FTC staff.  Also, the Global Privacy Enforcement Network is a legit organization, but but with a different mission.  (But we know better than to tell them anything or give them remote access to your computer, don't we?) Read more.
 (Posted 4/5/16)

IRS Scam Calls Will Not Go Away
This scam continues to thrive. DON'T FALL FOR IT!!  Most people are doing the correct thing - hanging up. However, the callers will occasionally reach someone that for any number of reasons is not aware of the scam or the real way that the IRS operates.
The caller (sometime a recording) will probably tell you that you owe back taxes and will threaten to have you arrested, deported, a lawsuit filed against you, whatever it takes to get you to pay. Sometimes potential victims will even receive a follow-up phone call from someone claiming to be the police or other agency. We heard from one Vernon Hills resident that received 5 calls in one day. Each time the resident was threatened with a law suit and was instructed to call back during specific hours. And don't be fooled because your caller ID says that the caller is from the IRS.  That can be rigged.

Here's a scary twist to these calls... During a recent call, a resident did confirm her phone number (fortunately, nothing else). Shortly afterward she received a phone call and the caller ID said the call was from us - VHPD. The resident did not answer it.  

So, what's the police angle? Sometimes scam calls will be followed up with another scam claiming to be the police investigating the scam. The second caller might state that as part of the police investigation, they need some personal information.  DON'T BELIEVE IT!  The police will not ask for personal sesitive information over the phone. If need be they will knock on your door and show you identification.

Here's a recent IRS document that has some good information on the issue. It includes a list of things that the IRS WILL NEVER do (such as calling the local police and/or asking for credit/debit card numbers over the phone.) It also provides phone numbers for who to call if you wish to report the call(s). PLEASE READ IT. 
 (Posted 6/17/134 - Amended 7/2/14, 10/22/14, 11/23/14, 1/31/15, 5/7/15, 12/9/15, 2/9/16)

Strange Twists to Phone Scam
A Vernon Hills resident recently passed along some strange details about a phone call she received. After repeatedly receiving calls from the same number (347 area code) she called the number back. The male at the other end claimed he was from the government and wanted her to consent to having money withdrawn from her account. The resident asked why and was told that it was for a donation - for children. The conversation went back and forth and the man then said he was kidding.  When the resident told him that the IRS doesn't make such phone calls the the man eventually hung up.

Although curiosity might get the best of you,  we don't recommend that anyone return these phone calls. Doing so not only confirms to the caller that your number is good, it gives the caller an opportunity to use their skills to win you over and (possibly) inadvertently reveal personal information.
 (Posted 10/12/15)

Not the M.O. of the Police
We read recently that, more and more, phone scammers are calling potential victims claiming to be the police. One specific example is the caller will claim to ban from xyz police department and say that one of your relatives has been arrested. The caller will ask that you get a prepaid card in the bond amount and give him/her the number. Normally, you wouldn't fall for this, correct?  

However, what might make the call a bit believable is that your caller ID shows that the call is indeed from the police.  Don't be fooled. Don't trust caller ID as it can be rigged.  If you must, research the police agencies non-emergency number (don't take it from the caller) and call the police to see what's going on. Besides, the police will not ask people to pay for anything with a pre-paid card.
 (Posted 7/20/15)

Don't Respond to a Text Message Asking for Your  Email Verification Code
If someone knows your email address and cell phone number, he/she might send you a text message claiming to be from your email provider and asking you to reply with your verification code. (They have already logged on and clicked the "Forgot Password?" link, thereby having your email provider send you the code.) Then the hacker quickly jumps in and (claiming to be your email provider) asks you for it. If you text it back the hacker can change your password and have full access to your email account.  Here's more on how it works.
 (Posted 7/8/15)