"Serving with Pride"
|Palos Park Police
Department's Financial Safety Tips
to Safety Information
Palos Park Police Department Internet Crime Investigation Unit
**** Cyber Crime Alert ****
Holiday Season Cyber Scammers Target
The Palos Park Police Department is reminding Residents this holiday
season that cyber criminals continue to aggressively seek ways to steal
money and personal information. Scammers are using several techniques to
fool potential victims including sending unsolicited e-mails that
contain attachments such as electronic greeting cards containing malware
(malicious software), setting up spoofing websites that look like
legitimate commercial sites, and unleashing phishing and vishing attacks
where individuals receive e-mails asking for personal data.
In the greeting card scam, the cards,
which are also referred to as e-cards or postcards, are being sent via
spam. Like many other Internet fraud schemes, the criminals use social
engineering tactics to entice the victim, claiming the card is from a
family member or friend. Although there have been variations in the spam
message and attached malware, generally the spam directs the recipient
to click the link provided in the e-mail to view the e-card. Upon
clicking the link, the recipient is unknowingly taken to a malicious
Spoofing scams are when criminals create
a false or shadow copy of a real website or email in a way that misleads
the recipient. All network traffic between the victim's browser and the
shadow page are sent through the spoofer's machine. This allows the
spoofer to acquire personal information, such as passwords, credit card
numbers, and account numbers.
Even though the e-mail looks like the
real thing, complete with authentic logos and working web links, it's a
fake. The website where you're told to enter your account information is
also fake. In some instances, really slick spoofers direct you to the
genuine website, then pop up a window over the site that captures your
personal information. The information entered does not go to the
legitimate site, but rather to the spoofer's account. The information
you entered will most likely be sold to criminals, who'll use it to ruin
your credit and drain your account.
In phishing and vishing attacks,
individuals report receiving e-mails or text messages indicating a
problem with their account. They are directed to follow the link
provided in the message to update their account or correct the problem.
The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent website that
looks legitimate where their personal information, such as account
number and PIN, is compromised.
Other reported scams have included
victims receiving an e-mail message asking them to complete an online
survey. At the end of the survey, they are asked for their personal
account information to allow funds to be credited to the account in
appreciation for completing the survey. Providing this information will
allow criminals to compromise the account.
Here are some tips you can use to avoid
becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (spam)
- Do not click on links contained
within an unsolicited email.
- Be cautious of e-mail claiming to
contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain
viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Avoid filling out forms in e-mail
messages that ask for personal information.
- Always compare the link in the
e-mail to the link that you are actually directed to.
- Log on to the official website,
instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited e-mail.
- Contact the actual business that
supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail is genuine.
How to Protect Yourself
at an ATM
Try to avoid using an
ATM by yourself.
If possible, avoid using an ATM after dark. Otherwise, choose one that
is well lighted and is not blocked by tall bushes.
When you arrive at an ATM, look around. If you see anything that makes
you uncomfortable or anyone who looks suspicious, do not stop. Either
use an ATM at a different location or come back later. Notify
Have your access card and any other paperwork you need ready when you
approach the ATM.
Even while using the ATM, stay alert to your surroundings. Look up and
around every few seconds while transacting your business.
When your transaction is finished, be sure you have your card and your
receipt and leave immediately. Avoid counting or otherwise displaying
large amounts of cash.
As you leave, be alert for anything or anyone who appears suspicious.
If you think you are being followed, go to an area with a lot of people
and call the police.
Protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not enter your PIN
if anyone else can see the screen. Do not use spouse, children, maiden
or pet names for the PIN number. Shield your PIN from onlookers by using
Credit Reporting Agencies are national companies that track everyone’s
credit rating and notes on their accounts. Contact any one of them if
you have or think you have been a victim of identity theft.
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 9530
Allen, TX 75013
National Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Shopper Job Fraud
The FBI Internet Crimes Unit has been alerted to an increase in
employment schemes pertaining to mystery/secret shopper positions. Many
retail and service corporations hire evaluators to perform secret or
random checks on themselves or their competitors, and fraudsters are
capitalizing on this employment opportunity.
Victims have reported to the IC3 they were
contacted via e-mail and U.S. mail to apply to be a mystery shopper.
Applicants are asked to send a resume and are purportedly subject to an
extensive background check before being accepted as a mystery shopper.
The employees are sent a check with instructions to shop at a specified
retailer for a specific length of time and spend a specific amount on
merchandise from the store. The employees receive instructions to take
note of the store's environment, color, payment procedures, gift items,
and shopping/carrier bags and report back to the employer. The second
evaluation is the ease and accuracy of wiring money from the retail
location. The money to be wired is also included in the check sent to
the employee. The remaining balance is the employee's payment for the
completion of the assignment. After merchandise is purchased and money
is wired, the employees are advised by the bank the check cashed was
counterfeit, and they are responsible for the money lost in addition to
bank fees incurred.
In other versions of the scheme,
applicants are requested to provide bank account information to have
money directly deposited into their accounts. The fraudster then has
acquired access to these victims' accounts and can withdraw money, which
makes the applicant a victim of identity theft.
Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of employment
schemes associated with mystery/secret shopping:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (spam)
- Do not click on links contained
within an unsolicited e-mail.
- Be cautious of e-mail claiming to
contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain
viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Virus scan all
attachments, if possible.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in
e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually
directed to and determine if they match and will lead you to a
- There are legitimate mystery/secret
shopper programs available.
- Research the legitimacy on companies
hiring mystery shoppers. Legitimate companies will not charge an
application fee and will accept applications online.
- No legitimate mystery/secret shopper
program will send payment in advance and ask the employee to send a
portion of it back.
Individuals who believe they have
information pertaining to mystery/secret shopper schemes are encouraged
to file a complaint at
|The holiday season is a
time when busy people can become careless and vulnerable to theft and
other holiday crime. The following tips from the Palos Park Police
Department can help you be more careful, prepared and aware during the
1.Shop during daylight hours whenever
possible and dress casually and comfortably. Avoid wearing expensive
2.Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.
3.Always carry your Driver License or Identification Card along with
necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.
4.Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things,
stay alert to your surroundings.
5.Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a
check or credit card when possible. Keep cash in your front pocket.
6.Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is
lost, stolen or misused.
7.Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place
8.Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the
prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation
terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.
9.Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have
clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
10.Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time
of year, "con-artists" may try various methods of distracting you
with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
Safe Online Holiday Shopping Tips From Better
While Thanksgiving weekend or "Black Friday" marks the traditional start
of the holiday shopping season, it is Cyber Monday—the Monday following
Thanksgiving—that marks the unofficial opening for online holiday
shopping. This year as more shoppers than ever before hunt for great
deals, many people are using the Internet to decide where, when and how
to get the best deals for their money. The Better Business Bureau
serving Chicago and Northern Illinois advises savvy shoppers looking for
good deals both in stores and online not only do their research on
consider the following advice.
Refunds and Exchange Policies
Whether shopping online or in stores, consumers should pay extra
attention to refund and exchanges policies. Some businesses give
refunds; some issue store credits only; some consider all sales to be
final. A store is not legally required to accept items for refund,
exchange or credit unless the merchandise is defective or was
misrepresented. Your Better Business Bureau reminds shoppers to know
their return rights before making the purchase. It's always better to
ask, than to assume.
“Many consumers are extremely comfortable
shopping online and simply don’t consider the threat of identity theft
or unscrupulous retailers during the holiday season,” said Steve J.
Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago
and Northern Illinois. “While the online environment has become a
thriving, trusted marketplace, e-commerce has also opened a door and
created a ripe environment for scammers to set up shop online and start
ripping people off.”
Top 10 Online Shopping Tips
BBB offers the following “Top 10 Online Shopping Tips” for holiday
shoppers to help prevent being taken in by unscrupulous online
retailers, scammers and hackers:
1. Protect your computer – A
computer used for online shopping should always have the most recent
updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware
software, and a secure firewall.
2. Use trustworthy Web sites –
Shoppers should start with the BBB to check on the seller’s
reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Always look for a
“trustmark” from BBBOnLine and click on that seal to confirm that
3. Protect your personal
information – BBB recommends taking the time to read the site’s
requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, it
should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold
to others without permission.
4. Trust your gut – Offers on
Web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be
true. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be
afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end.
5. Beware of phishing –
Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an
order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial
information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends
picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the Web site
where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a
problem with the transaction.
6. Confirm your online purchase is
secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the
“s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol
before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends
right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This
will let you see the real URL (Web site address) and the dialog box
will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
7. Pay with a credit card –
It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law the
shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the
item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized
charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have “zero
liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if
someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
8. Keep documentation of your
order. After completing the online order process, there may be a
final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by
e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any
e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
9. Check your credit card
statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB
recommends consumers check their credit card statements for
suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by
checking statements online regularly.
10. Know your rights – Federal
law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by
the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30
days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel
and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation
right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s
defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s
policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and
receive a refund or credit.
Old-school Scams Thrive
- First and foremost: When an offer
seems too good to be true, chances are it is. You should never have
to pay to receive a prize or enter a contest. If you do, it's
illegal. If you're told you're a “guaranteed” winner or that “no
risk is involved,” be skeptical.
- It's illegal to purchase or sell
lottery tickets from foreign countries, so if you're asked to send a
fee to enter an international lottery, forget about it.
- Don't give financial or personal
information such as a Social Security number, or credit card or bank
account numbers to callers you don't know. Reputable groups won't
request such information.
- Don't be pressured into making an
immediate decision. Get all information in writing before you agree
to enter a contest, make a purchase or give a donation.
- Mail scammers purchase contact
information from mailing list companies, and acquire addresses and
other contact information through online phone books and Internet
data mining. The perpetrators send millions of letters, offers and
requests with a goal of hooking just a fraction of the recipients.
Many mailings look so official they could fool even the most
- Clearly, the scammers tend to target
seniors with the assumption that there is some potential
- In 2008 alone, senior citizens
nationwide were cheated out of more than $2 billion by one estimate
many cases go unreported because the victims are embarrassed or
don't want their families to know.
- Approximately 99 percent of the
scammers operate from foreign countries that complicate the
investigation. And recovering lost money after it goes overseas is
See it, Hear it, Report!
HOW TO DEAL WITH SOLICITORS
Many people have difficulty dealing with door-to-door solicitors. The
first thing to remember is that you are in control of the situation. At
any time you can ask them to leave. Many people forget this important
fact or find it difficult to find a friendly way to ask them to leave.
This is an option in many situations; however, it is important to
remember that legally, you have the right to ask them to leave at any
- Check through a peephole or window
before opening your door to anyone.
- Steel yourself to be firm, although
it may feel impolite to say no.
- Consider carefully before inviting
solicitors into your home. It's much more difficult to rid yourself
-of them once they are inside; it's also potentially dangerous.
- Decide if you want to listen to
their spiel. Realize once you listen, it's once again harder to say
- Have a standard speech to turn away
fundraisers. For example, "I have my own charities that I -give to,
thank you very much."
- Prepare one for other situations. "I
have my own spiritual beliefs," or "I don't sign petitions without
- Thank them and say you must go. Then
close the door.
- Staying calm and polite always
leaves you in charge.
- Treat door-to-door solicitors as you
would any stranger, with caution and polite impartiality.
- If you have a chain lock, keep it
- Don't bring your purse to the door.
If you're giving, write your check or collect your cash in another
- Never let the solicitor know you're
alone, or give out any personal information.
- A slight bit of wariness is safe and
- Do not give them any information
pertaining to yourself or your neighbors.
- If at any time you feel that you are
in danger, please call 911. A police officer will be able to
determine if the solicitor is who they say they are or not.
Chicago-Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently warned consumers,
particularly senior citizens, about a new telephone scam aimed at
stealing their personal bank account numbers.
Madigan said her office has been notified that some customers of
Illinois banks are receiving unsolicited calls from representatives of a
company calling itself Nationwide Verification Office. The caller asks
for their account information so that it can be deleted from a so-called
“federal banking system.” Consumers are asked to verify their bank
account number and the bank routing numbers found at the bottom of their
Noting that similar schemes have been reported in other states, Madigan
warned consumers to never provide identifying or financial information,
such as Social Security numbers, bank account and credit card numbers to
anyone that calls on the phone. In many cases, such information can be
quickly and illegally used by the scammers to raid their account.
Madigan also reminded consumers that neither banks nor the government
will ever call and ask consumers for account information or Social
Consumers contacted by National Verification Office are urged to hang up
and report the call to Madigan's Consumer Fraud Hotline at the following
Chicago: 1-800-386-5438 and 1-800-964-3013
Springfield: 1-800-243-0618 and 1-877-844-5461
Carbondale: 1-800-243-0607 and 1-877-675-9339
Warn Residents About Phone Scam
Palos Park Police
Investigators investigated a large number of
reports of a phone scam. This scam was a
recorded phone message, claiming to be from
a local financial institution (Palos Bank
and Trust), that informed the potential
victims that their card account had been
frozen due to fraudulent or third party
activity. The message then gave the option
of speaking to their security department.
Fortunately, most people recognized this as
a scam and immediately contacted ether their
bank or the police department to report this
suspicious activity. If you are contacted by
what you recognize as a scam please remember
Do Not Give Any Personal Information
note of the time of the call and the
phone number if you have caller ID
- If you
have any questions regarding your
personal finances, contact your
friends and family if you become aware
of a scam, they may not have heard about
doubt, call your local police department
For more information, please contact the
Palos Park Police Department at
(708)671-3770. Also, please visit the Palos
Park Police Department's Twitter page (www.twitter.com/palosparkpolice)
for more information.
YOUR GUARD SAFETY TIPS FOR RESIDENTS
Protect your ATM personal identification number (PIN). Stand directly
in front of the ATM when you enter your PIN so no one can look over your
shoulders to view your number entry. When in your car, look in your
mirrors and all around you, to ensure nobody is watching. Be prepared to
conduct your transaction before you draw near the ATM or Night Deposit.
Complete your business promptly, secure money in your pocket or purse,
always take your receipt (it shows your account number) and don’t linger
in the area. Use care when going to and from your bank entrance and
foyer. Be observant, and don’t display cash, checks or important
documents. Always be cautious of “odd” lurking strangers. Watch over
your deposit slips and check books. These items present essential
account information that should be safeguarded.
Stay alert and attentive to your setting and surroundings. Walk
confidently at a steady pace on well-traveled routes, and avoid walking
at night. Exercise caution when strangers (pedestrians or motorists)
ask for information, and keep a safe distance to avoid being grabbed,
clutched or dragged. Carry a fully charged cell phone and participate
In Case of
(ICE) Program. (The ICE program is simple! In your cell phone
phonebook, place the numbers of family members or friends you would like
emergency first responders to call if you are injured, incapacitated or
involved in some catastrophic event. List the numbers in your cell
phone under the acronym ICE.)
Always lock your car in the parking area before entering the building.
If you are the last person to leave the building at night, go ahead to
your car in an observant and watchful manner. Know the locations of all
fire exits and fire extinguishers, report malfunctioning exterior and
interior lighting, and steer clear of allowing strangers access to the
workplace. In your work area, keep your purse, wallet and other
valuables out of open view. Keep track of all office keys in the event
of emergencies or other urgent situations. Don’t give out personal
information to strangers, unfamiliar persons or unknown callers. Lock
doors and keep the lights on when working after normal hours. Avoid
entering elevators with persons who look “out-of-place” and don’t use
stairwells by yourself. Whenever possible, let your spouse, friend, or
relative know you are at work. Call 9-1-1 for police and fire.
Park in highly visible areas in full view; in the evening, make certain
that the lighting is satisfactory. After parking, turn up windows and
lock the doors. When returning to your vehicle, approach your car
cautiously with keys in-hand, looking around and inside the vehicle
before entering. Know the “Bump-and-Rob” scam. That is when a vehicle
jolts your car to force you to stop, thus making you a potential crime
victim. If it happens, remain in your locked vehicle, call 9-1-1 if you
have a cell phone and drive to a busy, noticeable area. Be very guarded
if you spot a stranded motorist; if you wish to help them, call 9-1-1,
instead of stopping. If you are having serious car trouble, pull to the
shoulder, raise your hood, engage four-way flashers and stay in your
locked vehicle. If you sense that you are being followed or pursued,
call 9-1-1 and drive to the nearest police station. When stopping allow
sufficient room to maneuver around cars, in case an urgent situation
arises or to avoid an accident. If an auto thief threatens you with a
firearm or weapon, exit the vehicle and give up your car.
There is a type of Internet theft called
“phishing” (pronounced fishing), and that is
exactly what these thieves are doing...
“fishing” for your personal financial
information. The robbers want your account
numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and
other private information to raid your checking
account or run up bills on your credit cards.
In a typical phishing swindle, you receive an
e-mail that appears to come from an legitimate
company like your bank. Sometimes, the e-mail
may appear to come from a government agency.
The e-mail may warn you of a serious problem
requiring your urgent attention, using phrases
like “Contact us immediately about your
account.” Then, you are encouraged to click on
a button to go to the institution’s Web page.
This phony Web site may look like the real
thing, or it may be the company’s actual Web
page from which a pop-up window will quickly
appear for harvesting your financial data. In
either case, you are asked to update your
you provide the information, you may find
yourself the victim of identity theft.
You can protect yourself, and here is how.
*Never provide your personal information in
response to an unsolicited Internet or phone
request if you did not initiate the
*Do not be intimidated by an e-mail that
suggests grim consequences if you fail to
immediately provide or verify financial
*In no way click on the link provided in the
e-mail if you believe it could be a sham.
Besides, it may contain a virus that will
contaminate your computer.
*If you think that an e-mail (with link) is
legitimate, go to the company’s Web page by
typing-in the site address
rather than using the e-mail link, or call your
bank to verify they need the information.
*Monitor your bank and credit card statements to
discover unusual account activity.
*Report strange e-mails to the Federal Trade
Commission online, at
or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
Don’t become a casualty of identity theft.
“Phishing” charlatans can acquire loans, procure
money from accounts, obtain credit cards and
even secure driver’s licenses— ALL IN YOUR NAME—and
the devastation to your financial history and
take years to untangle!
Palos Park Police
Crime Tip - Bad Checks
check: limit the amount for which a check
may be written or limit the amount of
purchase; require management approval for
any check written in excess of a set dollar
checks. Two party checks have a higher
incidence of unreliability and can be more
difficult to collect.
Local vs. Out of
state checks. Local check writers are
easier to contact for collection. Illinois
courts cannot prosecute out of state check
writers unless they can be contacted within
The primary identification for collection
purposes is a driver’s license or special
identification card issued by the state of
Specify any other limits so they will be
clearly understood by customers and
fee. Collect a returned check processing
fee of up to $20.00. All checks should
accurately reflect the name, address
(mailing & physical) divers license number
of the check writer. If this information is
not on the check, your employee should write
it clearly on the check.
Basic rules of
Make sure the
name and picture match the check writer’s
Correct date is
on the check (not post dated)
Make sure the
written & numerical amounts agree
erasures, alterations or abnormalities
Low check number
(new accounts can be less reliable)
Please contact the
investigations division of the Palos Park Police
Department at 708 671 3770 for further
information regarding the passing of bad checks
at your business.