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Palos Park Police Department's Financial Safety Tips

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Palos Park Police Department Internet Crime Investigation Unit
**** Cyber Crime Alert ****

Holiday Season Cyber Scammers Target Victims
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 webpage.

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) e-mail.
  • 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 authorities.
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, maid
en or pet names for the PIN number. Shield your PIN from onlookers by using your body.

 

Credit Reporting Agencies
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.

Equifax
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
1-800-525-6285
http://www.equifax.com

Consumer Fraud Division
1-800-525-6285

Experian
P.O. Box 9530
Allen, TX 75013
1-888-397-3742
http://www.experian.com

National Consumer Assistance
1-888-397-3742

TransUnion
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
1-800-680-7289
http://www.transunion.com


Secret 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.

Tips
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) e-mail.
  • 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 legitimate site.
  • 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 www.IC3.gov.

 

Shopping Safety
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 holiday season.

1.Shop during daylight hours whenever possible and dress casually and comfortably. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

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 at home.

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 Business Bureau
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 www.bbb.org, but 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 it’s valid.

3. Protect your personal information – BBB recommends taking the time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being 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 able-minded targets.
  • Clearly, the scammers tend to target seniors with the assumption that there is some potential vulnerability there,
  • 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 nearly impossible.

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 time.

Suggestions:

  • 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 -no.
  • 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 consideration."
  • Thank them and say you must go. Then close the door.

Safety Tips:

  • 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 fastened.
  • Don't bring your purse to the door. If you're giving, write your check or collect your cash in another room.
  • Never let the solicitor know you're alone, or give out any personal information.
  • A slight bit of wariness is safe and sane.
  • 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.
 

TELEPHONE SCAM
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 checks.

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 Security numbers.

Consumers contacted by National Verification Office are urged to hang up and report the call to Madigan's Consumer Fraud Hotline at the following numbers:
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

Police 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 the following:

Do Not Give Any Personal Information

  • Take 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 financial institution
  • Inform friends and family if you become aware of a scam, they may not have heard about it

When in 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.

 

ON YOUR GUARD SAFETY TIPS FOR RESIDENTS

Personal Safety in… 

Routine Banking
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. 

While Walking
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 the
In Case of Emergency (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.) 

At the Workplace
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. 

When Driving
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.

 


IDENTITY THEFT 

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 account information.

 If 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 communication.

*Do not be intimidated by an e-mail that suggests grim consequences if you fail to immediately provide or verify financial information.

*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

directly 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 www.consumer.gov/idtheft, 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 personal standing could take years to untangle!

 

Palos Park Police Crime Tip  -  Bad Checks 

  1. Amount of 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 amount. 

  2. Two party checks.  Two party checks have a higher incidence of unreliability and can be more difficult to collect. 

  3. 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 our state. 

  4. Identification.  The primary identification for collection purposes is a driver’s license or special identification card issued by the state of Illinois 

  5. Other limits.  Specify any other limits so they will be clearly understood by customers and employees. 

  6. Returned check 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 thumb: 

  • Make sure the name and picture match the check  writer’s signature

  • Correct date is on the check (not post dated)

  • Make sure the written & numerical amounts agree

  • Check any 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.

 
 

 


8999 West 123rd Street
Palos Park, IL 60464
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NON-EMERGENCY POLICE RESPONSE (708) 448-2191
POLICE BUSINESS (708)448-0639 or (708)671-3770
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