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Local Scams

Identifying Scams and Tips to Avoid Them

Post Date:04/28/2017 8:00 AM

The following are some common scams the Bloomington Police Department has investigated, and tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim.  For further information, review the Bloomington Police Department's Identity Theft Brochure and Scam Brochure.

Phone and Email Scam RED FLAGS

When you receive an unsolicited call or emails beware of the following red flags:

  • You've been specially selected (for this offer).  
  • You've won one of five valuable prizes.
  • You've won big money in a foreign lottery.
  • You have to make up your mind right away.
  • You have to pay with a fee or cover taxes with a wire transfer, Greendot, prepaid debit card, or ITunes card. 

What to Do - Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint.

 

 U.S. Treasury Scam

Residents are reporting receiving a phone messages in regards to the US treasury and residents will have to appear in front of a magistrate or answer to the grand jury if I don't return the call.

The BBB reports consumers that have called the scammer back were told this was an urgent matter and they owned money to the US Treasury that needed to be paid immediately. When the callers question or refuse to cooperate, it has been reported the scammer becomes threatening and states he will send the authorities to arrest them.

What to do: File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant FTC.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

Utility Scam Targeting Local Businesses

Imagine your business receives a phone call from your utility company (Ameren locally) saying they’re going to immediately cut off your electricity. The caller ID looks legitimate, but you know you’ve paid your bill. The caller says, “I can stop this, but only if you pay me now.”

STOP - It’s a scam. Instead of asking you to wire money, the scammer wants you to use GreenDot, buy a prepaid gift card, or use PayPal. This lets the scammers get your money in a way that you’ll never get it back.

What to Do:
Call your utility company on the phone number that appears on your bill and describe what happened. Also report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

 

IRS Phone Scam…what you need to know

The IRS phone scam continues to claim victims all across the country. In these scams, callers fraudulently claim to be from the IRS and demand immediate payment of taxes by a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The callers often threaten arrest or legal action.

To avoid becoming a victim of these scams, you should know:
• The IRS will first contact you by mail if you owe taxes, not by phone.
• The IRS never asks for credit, debit or prepaid card information over the phone.
• The IRS never insists that you use a specific payment method to pay your tax.
• The IRS never requests immediate payment over the telephone.
• The IRS will always treat you professionally and courteously.


If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

• HANG-UP and report the scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

 

Utility Bill (Ameren) Scam is Back

The Bloomington Police Department has received a report the Ameren Scam is back in Bloomington, IL.

FTC Warns of Utility Bill Scam That Asks for Payment via GreenDot, Paypal or Prepaid Gift Card Imagine receiving a phone call from your utility company (Ameren locally) saying they’re about to cut off your electricity. The caller ID looks like it might be a legitimate phone number, but you know you’ve paid your bill. The caller says, “I can stop this, but only if you pay me.”

It’s a scam, but there’s a new twist. Instead of asking you to wire money, a new scam wants you to use GreenDot, buy a prepaid gift card, or use PayPal. Scammers using reloadable debit cards, gift cards, or PayPal is not new, but it’s growing. It lets them get your money in a way that you’ll never get it back.

Scammers can use computers to make it look like they’re calling from one place – when, in fact, they’re someplace else. If you get a call, email, text, or even a visit from someone telling you to make a payment via PayPal, or to buy a GreenDot card or a gift card, it’s probably a scam. Call your utility company on the phone number that appears on your bill, describe what happened, and report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission, online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

 

IRS Phone Scam -

Local residents have received unsolicited calls from individuals demanding payment while fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS or some other law enforcement agency.

The IRS will never:
1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.


If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

For additional information and resources, please visit the IRS.GOV.

Invoice Scam Targeting Businesses 

The invoice scam, or bill scam, is a classic form of fraud wherein a scammer sends out fake but real-looking bills or invoices in hopes that the victim will pay the fraudulent bill in addition to various real ones. Such scams usually target businesses or organizations, rather than ordinary individuals.

Business Scam Alert - Several area hotels report receiving a fake invoice.

The invoice is allegedly for a LB-62095BC Kit-Ignition Control Repl 53L8601 (kit to replace the existing gas value and new main burner with pilot bracket).

Amount Owed = $874.79

*If you receive this scam report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Check out the tips below from the FTC on how you can protect your business.

1) Train your staff.

Educate your employees about how these scams work. In addition to your regular receptionist, talk to everyone who may pick up the phone. Put a copy of this article in employee mailboxes. Mention it in a staff meeting. Post it on the break room bulletin board or where employees clock in and out.

2) Inspect your invoices.

Depending on the size and nature of your business, consider implementing a purchase order system to make sure you’re paying only legitimate expenses. At a minimum, designate a small group of employees with authority to approve purchases and pay the bills. Train your employees to send all inquiries to this group. Compile a list of the companies you typically use for directory services, supplies, and other recurring expenses. Encourage the people who pay the bills to develop a “show me” attitude when it comes to unexpected invoices from companies they’re not familiar with, even if those invoices list one of your employee’s names. Don’t pay for products or services you’re not sure you ordered. 

 Before paying, check them out for free at bbb.org (link is external), and read the BBB’s report on them.

Learn more at FTC.Gov

Computer Repair Phone Scam Hits Bloomington

Today, some fishy computer repair scammers got an earful after they cold called 3 BPD cellphones in the course of an hour offering to fix our "infected and hacked computers".

These calls originated overseas but showed up on caller ID as being from 860-885-53XX. The foreign company stated they were from Geek Support.com and asked that we sit down at our computers and let them remote into the computers to "repair them". After being advised that we knew they were committing fraud and had called police department phones, they were persistent and aggressive in their continued attempts to have us go along with their attempt to remote into our "infected" computers.

This scam is not new. They are attempting to either infect your computer or solicit your credit card number to fix a problem with your computer that doesn't exist.

Best advice if you receive this type of call - HANG UP. No legitimate company cold calls you in an attempt to "trouble shoot" your computer. For all calls of this type, do not give control of your computer or provide a computer password to anyone over the phone. Also, never provide your credit card or financial information to unexpected callers.

If you experience telemarketing scams, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Telephone Lottery Scam

Dreaming of a Caribbean holiday after hearing you won the lottery? Don't let your dreams turn into a nightmare.

An unsuspecting Bloomington resident received the call of a lifetime when they were told they won 3.5 million dollars in the lottery. The money was sitting at the Federal Bank in Pennsylvania. All they had to do was wire money to cover the taxes and the 3.5 million was theirs. After wiring thousands of dollars the resident learned it was all a scam, and their money along with their lotto dreams were gone.
Recognize and Report Phone SCAMS

Fraudulent telemarketers often “guarantee” that you’ve won valuable prizes, like vacations, cars or large sums of cash. But they want you to pay “fees” for shipping, taxes, customs or other supposed expenses.

If you get a call from out of the blue telling you that “you’re a winner”:

• don’t pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes” or “shipping and handling charges” to collect your prize.
• hold on to your money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash.
• remember that phone numbers can deceive. Internet technology allows con artists to disguise their area code so it looks like they’re calling from your local area. But they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
• keeping your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself.

If you experience telemarketing scams, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Guidelines you need to know to protect yourself from illegal Door-to-Door Solicitors:

AVOID HIGH-PRESSURE SALES. If the offer has a time limit to it, close the door. A legitimate business will give you time to check for background information and important license and registration information.
DO YOUR RESEARCH. Before making any decision to hire a paving, roofing, or any other kind of contractor, check BBB Business Reviews, references, and research the company.
GET A CONTRACT. Trustworthy businesses will draw up a contract with a description of materials, labor, start and completion dates, company name, local address and telephone number.

Rules for Solicitors in the City of Bloomington

• No solicitor shall solicit homes that have placed cards at their entrances containing the words as follows: "NO SOLICITORS INVITED"
• Solicitors may solicit only from the hours of 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., except all soliciting is prohibited on Sundays or on a State or National Holiday.
• Solicitors must provide their City of Bloomington Solicitor's permit upon request

If a solicitor is in violation of the City of Bloomington's rule and regulations above, you can call BPD's non-emergency number at 820-8888 to make a report.

Solicitors in violation of the City of Bloomington's Solicitors Ordinance may be subject to a fine for each offense. All persons desiring to engage in soliciting must fill out an Application for Soliciting in the City Clerk's Office.

REMEMBER
While some solicitations are legitimate (fund-raisers or those trying to make a living), others may be a scam or even scouting homes for future burglaries.

• You don't have to answer the door. Never feel obligated to greet an unfamiliar person knocking at your door.
• If you feel threatened, contact the police immediately. Never let any door-to-door salesperson into your home. 

 

Scammers using police phone # posing as IRS agents

BPD has received 2 reports of the scam locally.

An Internal Revenue Service impostor scam is making the rounds again in Bloomington. This time, victims receive a message claiming the IRS is about to file a lawsuit against you. The caller asks for the victim to call back. The call-back numbers vary.

*Some residents are reporting BPD's number of 309-434-2700 or 911 is showing up on caller ID. REMEMBER - scammers can clone numbers on caller ID and display a number of their choice. Don’t fall for this scam. The calls are from scammers who want to con you out of money.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
• When you have a tax problem, the IRS will first contact you by mail, not by phone.
• The IRS won’t threaten arrest, deportation or loss of a driver’s license.
• The IRS won’t demand that you make payment right away.
• The IRS won’t ask you to wire money, pay with a prepaid money card, or ask you to share credit card information over the phone

If you get a message or phone call from one of these scammers hang-up. You can file a complaint with the FTC at the following link.

 

Jury Duty Scam Alert

BPD has received local reports of the Jury Duty Scam in Bloomington
The scam works like this: a consumer receives a phone call (309-214-xxxx) or voice mail from someone claiming to be with the local police, sheriff’s department, or county courts (locally the scammer made up the following names Sgt. Downs with the McLean County Sheriff and Sgt. Jacobs from the warrant division). The scammer stated that the consumer missed a jury duty summons and would be arrested if they didn’t pay a fine immediately.

The scammer asks the consumer to wire money — like on MoneyGram or Western Union — or buy a prepaid debit card to pay the fine (locally the scammer told the consumer to get a Green Dot card at Kroger).

STOP it's a SCAM!!!!

Here are some red flags you can use to spot these scams:
• In McLean County you will receive a jury summons by mail not by phone call;
• If you receive a call from the McLean County Jury Commission it would be during normal business hours (not at night or on weekends);
• You are asked to pay fines via a wire transfer or prepaid debit card (such as MoneyPak, Reloadit or Green Dot cards).

Concerned that you may have missed a jury duty summons in McLean County? Contact the McLean County Jury Commission at 309-888-5241.

Report the Scam
If you get a call from a government imposter, file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint.

 

The Publishers Clearing House Phone Scam

BPD has received two reports from Bloomington residents who received unsolicited phone calls claiming they won $$ from Publishers Clearing House… but winning isn't free.

According to their website, PCH warns consumers to Be Suspicious of Callers Claiming You’ve Won - But Ask You to Send Money. If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming you have won a sweepstakes prize but are asked to send money to claim it -- STOP -- you have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes company. At Publishers Clearing House we do not notify our contest winners by phone.

BPD would like to remind residents to never wire money to an unknown individual or company in order to receive something in return.

Seniors are often targets of phone scams. Please share this warning with older parents, friends and neighbors. Thanks!

PCH phone scams should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or 1-877-FTC-HELP.

BPD has taken 8 reports of Tax Identity Theft this year

Follow the tips below to help protect your information.
• Shopping Online, Encrypt Your Data - To guard your online transactions, look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
• Be Alert to Scammers - don't give out your personal information
• Safely Dispose of Personal Information
• Keep Passwords Private
• Don’t Overshare on Social Networking Sites
• Avoid Phishing Emails - Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers. Could be a VIRUS.
• Be Wise About Wi-Fi - Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place, see if your information will be protected.

*An identity thief may use your Social Security number to get a tax refund. Click on the link to learn more about Tax-Related Identity Theft from the Federal Trade Commission.

 

IRS Phone Scam

Local residents have received unsolicited calls from individuals demanding payment while fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS or some other law enforcement agency.

The IRS will never:
1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

 
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
    For additional information and resources, please visit the IRS.GOV.

Tech Support Scam

It begins with a phone call. Scammers can get your name and other basic information from public directories.
Once they have you on the phone, they often try to gain your trust by pretending to be associated with well-known companies or confusing you with a barrage of technical terms. Their tactics are designed to scare you into believing they can help fix your “problem.”
Once they’ve gained your trust, they may:
• ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable
• try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program
• ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services — or services you could get elsewhere for free
• trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, like user names and passwords
• direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information
Regardless of the tactics they use, they have one purpose: to make money.

If You Get a Call
If you get a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, hang up and call the company yourself on a phone number you know to be genuine.

If You’ve Responded to a Scam
• Get rid of malware. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem.
• Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too.
• If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charges you didn’t make, and ask to reverse those, too.
• If you believe that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, visit the FTC’s identity theft website. You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place.
• File a complaint with the FTC at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov


Utility Bill (Ameren) Scam 
The Bloomington Police Department has received two local reports of the following scam.

FTC Warns of Utility Bill Scam That Asks for Payment via GreenDot, Paypal or Prepaid Gift Card Imagine receiving a phone call from your utility company (Ameren locally) saying they’re about to cut off your electricity. The caller ID looks like it might be a legitimate phone number, but you know you’ve paid your bill. The caller says, “I can stop this, but only if you pay me.”

It’s a scam, but there’s a new twist. Instead of asking you to wire money, a new scam wants you to use GreenDot, buy a prepaid gift card, or use PayPal. Scammers using reloadable debit cards, gift cards, or PayPal is not new, but it’s growing. It lets them get your money in a way that you’ll never get it back.

Scammers can use computers to make it look like they’re calling from one place – when, in fact, they’re someplace else. If you get a call, email, text, or even a visit from someone telling you to make a payment via PayPal, or to buy a GreenDot card or a gift card, it’s probably a scam. Call your utility company on the phone number that appears on your bill, describe what happened, and report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission, online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Grandparents Phone Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has received two reports of a phone scam where the suspect identified themselves as the victim's grandchild.

The victims received a phone call from a suspect who was pretending to be the victim's real life grandchild. The suspect stated they were out of state and had been in a serious traffic accident. The suspect needed money so the other driver would not pursue charges or because they were arrested for underage drinking and driving. The suspect asked the victim not to tell their parents and to immediately wire money or use a Green Dot card (prepaid debit card). The victim's sent the scammer thousands of dollars and later learned their grandchild was safe and never involved.

*In a variation of the scam the suspect claims they are in jail (not an accident).  Learn more FTC.

Tips to Avoid Phone Scams

  • Avoid sending wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, cashier's checks, and money orders based on a request made over the phone or email 
  • Verify the information
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly

  

Fraud Alert: Counterfeit Currency Reported 

On July 11 2014, the McLean County Chamber of Commerce has received reports this afternoon of counterfeit currency being detected by some of our area businesses. Please take the necessary steps to protect your business from this deceptive currency. If you do find your business has been subjected to counterfeit bills, please report it to local law enforcement.

 

Government Grant Scam

An elderly Bloomington resident received an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be a part of the "Federal Grants Administration".

The scammer claimed the resident had won a grant and could get free money from the Federal Grants Administration by going to Western Union. When asked for additional information, like what the grant was for, what the address was for the Federal Grants Administration, etc. the scammer hung-up. See information from the FTC to learn more about the scam. http://ow.ly/z15uX

Tips to Avoid SCAMS -
• Be aware of unsolicited calls where you win money for no reason.
• Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know.
• Place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. www.donotcall.gov. or call 1-888-382-1222.
• Hold on to your money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money’s gone, there’s very little chance of recovery.

File a complaint with the FTC. If you think you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC online, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

 

Injury Institute SCAM

SCAM ALERT - BPD has received one local report that a business is soliciting citizens and saying it is on the Bloomington Police Department's behalf. The citizen took a call from someone claiming to be a representative of the Injury Institute. The representative was calling in reference to an accident that the citizen's elderly in-laws were involved in. The representative stated he was calling at the direction of the Bloomington Police Department. When the caller started asking who from the police department directed them to call the person hung-up. The caller suspected that the representative was trying to inappropriately generate business.

It should be noted, the Injury Institute does not have authorization to solicit citizens on the Bloomington Police Department's behalf. If you receive a call please contact the Bloomington Communications Center at 820-8888 to report the incident. Any contact information for the representative would be useful. Thanks!

Jamaican Lottery Scam Alert

BPD has received one local report of the Jamaican phone scam targeting seniors.

According to the FTC - Fraudulent telemarketers based in Jamaica are calling people in the U.S., telling them that they’ve won a sweepstakes or foreign lottery. “Winners” need only pay fees for shipping, insurance, customs duties or taxes before they can claim their prizes.

Recognize and Report Phone Fraud
Fraudulent telemarketers often “guarantee” that you’ve won valuable prizes, like vacations, cars or large sums of cash. But they want you to pay “fees” for shipping, taxes, customs or other supposed expenses.
If you get a call from out of the blue telling you that “you’re a winner”:
• don’t pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. If you have to pay to collect your winnings, you’re not winning — you’re buying. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes” or “shipping and handling charges” to collect your prize.
• hold on to your money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money’s gone, there’s very little chance of recovery. Likewise, resist any push to send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier. Con artists recommend these services so they can get their hands on your money before you realize you’ve been cheated.
• remember that phone numbers can deceive. Internet technology allows con artists to disguise their area code so it looks like they’re calling from your local area. But they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
• keeping your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself.

If you experience telemarketing fraud of any type, report it online to the FTC or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

To locate a U.S. Postal Inspector and file a complaint concerning any mailings within the U.S. or from Jamaica, contact 1-877-876-2455. Follow the prompts in order to speak with a local postal inspector. Please provide them with the same details as you provide to the Homeland Security tip line.

Craigslist Overpayment Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has received two local reports regarding overpayment scams through Craigslist.

The victims report they placed an item for sale on craigslist.org. The victims were contacted by a scammer who stated they wanted to buy the item.  The scammer stated they would send a certified check because they were out of town.  The scammer advised they hired movers to pick-up the item.  The scammer sent the check for over the purchase amount of the item stating the rest should be used to pay the movers.  The scammer then asked the victims to wire the money (difference in the purchase price and check amount) to the movers via WalMart MoneyGram.  The checks were not legitimate.

 
Tips to Avoid Scams on Craigslist

Avoid wire transfers, cashier's checks, and money orders
Stay local
Never give out financial information
Avoid deals involving shipping, movers, or escrow services

 

 Busey Bank Vishing SCAM

Busey Bank warns customers in Illinois are reporting automated calls saying a card has been deactivated and asking for debit card and personal information. The scammers are using Busey’s name. Please remember Busey will never contact you requesting personal information. If you provided your card information we recommend you monitor online banking closely and order a new card. See link to website

Tech Support Phone Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has received multiple reports of tech support phone scams occurring locally. Check out the link to learn what you need to know. Remember - never trust unsolicited calls and do not provide any personal information.

"One-ring" Cell Phone SCAM

The Bloomington Police Department has received local reports of the "one-ring" cell phone scam.One-Ring Scam

The Better Business Bureau is warning cell phone users about a new scam that can result in unauthorized charges appearing on their monthly wireless statement.

It's called the "One Ring" scam because the scammers program computers to send thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers, ring once and then disconnect. The scammers then hope you are curious enough about the phone call that you return the call right away.

When the cell phone owner returns the call, they are charged $19.95 for an international call fee. After that, there is a $9.00 per minute charge. It’s reported that often they will first hear music followed by advertising. So,it’s easy to see how quickly these charges can add up. Consumers who have been duped by these calls report that they are coming from the Caribbean Islands including Grenada, Antigua, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands.

If a person thinks they may have fallen for this scam, they should immediately alert their cell phone carrier and keep an eye on their cell phone bill. The earlier they document the fraud, the better their chances of having some or all of the charges removed.

To be as safe as possible, the BBB recommends the best thing to do if your phone rings and it's an international number you don't recognize, don't answer it and don't call back.
Link to original article on BBB.

Scam calls usually come from outside the United States, including from numbers with area codes 268, 809, 876, 284, and 473.

IRS Phone SCAM

The Bloomington Police Department has received one report of a phone SCAM involving the IRS.  The Internal Revenue Service wants to warn consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers IRS website.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail

Other characteristics of this scam include:

•Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
•Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
•Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
•Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
•Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
•After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

•If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
•If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
•If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

Home Repair Scams

The Bloomington Police Department wants to warn residents to be aware of home repair scams, especially after a major storm.  Residents have reported receiving unsolicited calls from subjects identifying themselves as contractors wanting to do estimates for storm damage.  The phone calls persist even after the residents have advised they are not interested. 

National Do Not Call Registry: call 888-382-1222 or www.donotcall.gov

Follow the tips below to help avoid home repair scams:

• Verify the name, address, telephone number or credentials of the remodeler (if they will not provide this it is a red flag).  
• Ask people you trust for contractor referrals.
• Check out contractors with your local Better Business Bureau.
• Ask a contractor for references.
• Get written estimates from several firms.
• Don’t do business without a written contract.
• Get all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing.
• Agree on start and completion dates and have them written into the contract.
• Do not pay for the entire job in advance.

Car Wrap Advertising Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has received one report of a car wrap advertisement scam.  Reports of the scam are searchable on the internet.  The victim was contacted via Facebook with a promise of a way to make extra money.  The scam states a big company is offering the opportunity to make $300 - $500 a week if you have your car wrapped in a well-known brand's logo.

The scammers who send this message also post the same offer on sites like Craigslist, Oodle, or Gumtree, create well-designed advertisements, and even contact people who submit their resumes online hunting for jobs. If you accept the offer, the scammers will then send a check for a large amount of money, according to the length of time you want to be the mobile advertiser.  The victim received a $2000 check from Alpha & Omega Financial Services out of Las Vegas, NV.

The instructions for cashing the check indicate that a certain portion of the money is to be kept as your payment and the rest is to be sent via wire transfer to the company who will supposedly wrap your vehicle. After wiring the money, you'll find out that the original check was a fake and the transaction bounced.

Text SCAM

Several residents are receiving a text message from Prairieland FCU. The message states ‘CALL: 818 760 54XX. Your immediate attention is required.”  Many times you will receive unsolicited phone calls, text, or emails in an attempt to solicit your personal information.  Do not respond. 

National Do Not call registry: www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at www.donotcall.gov. You can register your home or mobile phone for free.

 

Vishing Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has one report of an email circulating from an unknown address advising the victim's Busey Bank Card had been canceled to reactivate it call 907.782.4705. If the number is called an automated voice tells you to provide your card number to activate it.

Busey Bank has issued the following statement on their website regarding the scam.  Busey has received numerous reports from our customers of recent vishing attempts. Customers are receiving automated phone calls stating their debit card needs to be reactivated or there is a billing issue with their card. Busey will never call a customer regarding card activation or requesting card information.
These calls are scams attempting to acquire your card information. Do not respond to the call, simply hang
up. If you have any questions, please contact your nearest Busey branch.

Advertising Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has been made aware of eight reports regarding an advertising scam targeting local businesses.  A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Jeffery L. Hassinger in connection with the incidents.  See complete article for further information. 

Victims are reporting a male is going business to business selling fake advertisements on placemats. The suspect states he is with Velocity Media Group Advertising. The suspect claims the business will be featured on a placemat for a cost a small cost. The suspect even provides an advertising contract to make the scam appear more legitimate. The victims pay the money upfront but never receive any product.

The Bloomington Police Department has alerted the McLean County Chamber of Commerce regarding the incidents. 

Rental House Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has received one report regarding a rental house scam through Craigslist.

The victim found a house to rent through craigslist.org. The victim contacted a subject, whom they believed to be the owner of the house. The suspect stated they were out of town and the victim could view the outside of the home and look through the windows only. The suspect claimed they had the only set of keys and they were temporarily living in another state. The suspect requested the victim transfer the rent money through Western Union and then they would send the keys. The money was sent, but the keys were never received.

Tips to Avoid Scams on Craigslist

  1. Avoid wire transfers, cashier's checks, and money orders
  2. Stay local
  3. Never give out financial information
  4. Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services
  5. Do not rent housing without seeing the interior

 

Phone Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has received one report of a phone scam where the suspect identified themselves as the victim's grandchild.

The victim received a phone call from a suspect who was pretending to be the victim's real life grandchild. The suspect stated they were out of state and had been in a traffic accident. The suspect needed money so the other driver would not pursue charges. The suspect asked the victim not to tell their parents and to wire money to them immediately. The victim wired the money out of state and later learned their grandchild was at home in Bloomington.

*In a variation of the scam the suspect claims they are in jail (not an accident).

Tips to Avoid Phone Scams 

  1. Avoid wire transfers, cashier's checks, and money orders
  2. Verify the information

 

Hotel Guest Scam

The Bloomington Police Department has received two reports regarding the following credit card scam at local hotels.

An unknown subject will call a guest's room directly and pose as a member of the hotel's front desk staff. After stating that they are a member of the front desk staff, the suspect will then request credit card information. The suspect claims the hotel's computer system has crashed and the credit card information on record has been lost. To help make their act more believable, the suspect will apologize profusely for the hour of the phone call and offer some sort of hotel compensation. The scam has been reported at two different hotels in Bloomington.

Tips to Avoid Hotel Scams

  1. Walk down to the front desk to verify the information
  2. When staying at a hotel do not give your financial information over the phone 

Other Common Telephone Scams include:

  • Prize Offers
  • Travel Packages
  • Investments
  • Bank Alerts
  • Working at Home
  • Legal Claims
  • Charities - To find out if a charity is legitimate and registered, check with the Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Bureau at 312-814-2595.
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