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Public Safety Reminder: How to Spot Scams and Prevent Identity Theft

Glencoe-Public-Safety-LogoIdentity Theft and Scams

The Public Safety Department has been responding to a number of identity theft and scam related incidents recently. Remember that attempts at stealing your money and/or identity can come in many forms. In any case, always report suspicious activity and suspected scams to Public Safety at (847) 835-4112 so that it can be appropriately investigated. If you see something, say something!

Here are just a few of the on-going scams that are currently being reported in our area:

  • Utility imposter scams: Offender (likely in person or over the phone) will warn the resident that if they do not pay a balance immediately or switch to a specific account number, their electricity, water or another utility will be shut off. They often request payment with the use of a prepaid debit card or a wire-transfer. These are red flags. If you feel pressured or suspect a scam, end the conversation and call customer service. Also remember that the Village is your water utility provider, should you have questions regarding your water bill or how to make a payment, please call the Finance Department directly at (847) 835-4113. Learn more here >>
  • Bitcoin scams: Offenders will threaten to disclose unsavory information about the resident if a large sum of bitcoin (digital currency) is not deposited in a specific account.
  • Inheritance letter scams: Offenders (often from outside of the U.S.) will send a resident a letter falsely informing the resident that they are entitled to inheritance from an unknown relative. Should you receive such a letter, please turn the original in to Public Safety.
  • View a list of other common scams here >>

Related to identity theft, please remember to always lock your car. While being relieved of loose change may not seem like a huge risk, with access to your car, many thieves also gain access to your home (and important documents) through garage door openers, or even house keys that share a key ring with car keys.

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

  • Secure your Social Security Number (SSN). Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your SSN on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, SSN, or bank account number) by phone, mail or online. 
  • Collect mail promptly. Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days. 
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
  • Enable the security features on mobile devices, especially if you have contacts, banking websites and applications saved.
  • Update sharing and firewall settings when you're on a public wi-fi network. Consider using a virtual private network, which can give you the privacy of secured private network.
  • Review your credit card and bank account statements. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
  • Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements and expired credit cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
  • Store personal information in a safe place.
  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
  • Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess easily. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases.
  • Review your credit report once a year to be certain that it doesn't include accounts that you have not opened. You can order it for free through the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
  • Source: https://www.usa.gov/identity-theft 

Tips to Spot Scams

Not sure if something is a scam or not? Here’s a quick list of things to look for:

  • Did an opportunity or request come out of the blue, from someone you don’t know or a company you’ve never heard of? If you’ve won the lottery or have been invited to invest in something that sounds too good to be true, be cautious.
  • Does it seem as though the individual or company won’t gain anything from the transaction? Honest transactions involve both parties being clear on benefits (i.e. you get a good or service and they receive payment).
  • Again, did the individual or company want you to pay immediately or in advance? This is good cause for concern, especially if they payment is to be made in cash, with a pre-paid debit card or by wire-transfer.
  • Is the individual or company asking you for personal information - like your SSN, bank details, computer passwords or PIN numbers? While some companies do require this type of information, do not respond if the service was not self-initiated. When in doubt, double-check the legitimacy of the company first.
  • Is the individual or company pressuring you to buy something or make a decision immediately? If the company is legitimate, they will wait for your patronage.