The St. Charles Police Department has seen a recent uptick in online scams leading to fraud over the last couple of weeks. Many of these fraudulent incidents have occurred while the victim has been using the internet. Listed below is a friendly reminder on what to do and what not to do when using the internet.
- Never click on pop-ups or unknown links
- Do not provide banking information to anyone you do not know
- Do not provide any money to strangers online or over the phone
- If you are asked to make purchases, or send money for items such as gift cards, Bitcoin, etc. do not provide the money or make the purchases
- Reach out to your bank if you need confirmation for emails, links, or phones calls you may view as suspicious
- Use virus protection and malware on your devices
- Complete all online banking on a secure network. These will usually include a “https” at the beginning of the link
- Should access to your bank account be accessed by someone who is not authorized, immediately contact your bank and freeze all accounts
- Should you be come a victim of these scams, contact your local police department as soon as possible
The Federal Trade Commission is a great resource for fraud, identity theft, scams, and more. For more information from the FTC check out www.ftc.gov. The Police Department has handouts they are able to provide to those who would like more information regarding protection of identity and fraud. If you are interested in obtaining these materials, reach out to Crime Prevention Officer Kramer at MKramer@Stcharlesil.gov or 630.443.3894.
Driver's License Expiring or Need Information
The St. Charles Police Department has received reports of two scams. One claims to be from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the other from the Illinois Secretary of State. These phony messages can be in a text or email and claim you need to update your driver’s license, or they request sensitive personal data and information like social security numbers or birthdates. Sometimes the scams include links to credible websites or use official images in an attempt to appear legitimate.
Please, do not click any links or share any private information through text or email.
The elderly are often targeted by these scams. We urge friends and family to warn and protect their elderly loved ones from these scams.
If you received one of these texts or emails, report it to:
Illinois Secretary of State
If you believe your personal information may have been compromised and you may be a victim of identity theft, file a report with St. Charles Police by calling 911 and an officer will contact you. We also recommend that you monitor your credit report for any fraudulent activity.
Residents have reported getting a phone call from a company to be from Apple. The caller says there has been a breach of their iCloud account and that they should input their iCloud username and password to rectify the situation. If you are contacted about your iCloud account, hang up and notify the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435.
Caller Offers Refund for Overpayment of Utility Bill
We have reports of an automated call claiming to be from the City of St. Charles, contacting residents about a refund due to overpayment of their utility bill. The call instructs residents to "Press 1" to provide information to receive a refund. The call shows a (773) area code. Please know that this is a fraudulent call. The City never uses automated calls to contact residents.
If you receive a call claiming to be from the City and you were not expecting a call from us (or are not sure it’s really from us), the best thing to do is hang up and notify the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435.
Electric Disconnection Scam
Residents have reported getting a phone call from a company claiming to be ComEd. The caller says the resident's electric service is scheduled for immediate disconnection and that the resident must go to a convenience store and purchase a specific kind of pre-paid cash card in the amount of $500. If you are contacted about your electric services and the caller demands payment or threatens electric disconnection, hang up and notify the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435.
How the City's electric services/billing works:
- The City of St. Charles maintains its own electric utility. Any contact about your electric services will come from the City of St. Charles Utility Billing office.
- We never threaten immediate disconnection unless payment is made during the phone call.
- We do not accept payment with pre-paid money cards, gift cards, or wire transfers.
- The City’s Utility Billing division will never call after hours or on a weekend. We only call during our regular office hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m
If you ever have questions about your rates or bill, call our Utility Billing Office directly at 630.377.4426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Man Posing as City Worker
Please help us spread the word about a local scam a resident has reported. A man shows up in a white truck saying he is from the City to “check the water.” He charges $50 to run the faucets in the house to let the resident know “the water is safe.” Please know that this person is not connected with the City of St. Charles in any way. If someone comes to your home, saying they are from the City and asks to come in to do any kind of work for cash, contact the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435.
How our City crews work:
- Our employees never ask for any form of payment.
- If work is scheduled in your area, you will receive a notice—either a letter on City stationery mailed to you or a door hanger with the City logo.
- Our employees drive vehicles with the City logo on it.
- Our employees wear a City-issued photo ID.
- If you ever have a question about a City project, call us at 630.377.4400.
COVID Unemployment Benefit Scam
The St Charles Police Department has received reports from residents who received unemployment benefits in the form of a KeyBank debit card even though they never applied for unemployment benefits. At least one resident has received a debit card in the name of a deceased relative. If this happens to you, please report it as a fraud immediately to the Illinois Department of Employment Security at www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/Reporting_Unemployment_Insurance_Fraud.aspx since your personal information may have been compromised and you may be a victim of identity theft. You also can file a report with St. Charles Police by calling 911 and an officer will contact you. We also recommend that you monitor your credit report for any fraudulent activity.
Callers with Fake City Caller ID
We have received reports that people are getting calls from scammers that show caller ID with phone numbers from the City of St. Charles.
If you receive a call from a City phone number and you were not expecting a call from us (or are not sure it’s really from us), the best thing to do is hang up and call that number back.
These are likely spoofing calls. Scammers bypass call blockers and use spoofing to pose as a bank, business, or government.
Additionally, the IDPH warns residents about fraudulent COVID-19 contact tracing calls as the state ramps up its contact tracing efforts. IDPH has stated that no legitimate contact tracer will ever ask for payment or a person’s Social Security number. Contact tracers will only call to report that an individual may have come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and should consider getting tested.
For further questions or to report a spoofing call, please call the Police Dept. Non-Emergency Number at 630-377-4435.
Social Security Scam Alert
We have heard that residents have received Social Security scam phone calls with the caller ID displaying St. Charles Police Department. The most recent call was from someone in Highland Park. Please share this information and report any suspicious calls to the Police Department 630.377.4435.
Sealcoating Scam Alert
We have heard about a scam in the area that involves non-registered solicitors visiting residents' homes and offering sealcoating services.
Please be aware that all solicitors must register with the St. Charles Police Department before they can go door-to-door. In addition, commercial solicitors must display a photo identification card issued by the Police Department.
Currently, the Police Department does not have any companies authorized to promote sealcoating. If you have a sealcoating solicitor approach you or your home, call 911 and provide any details of the encounter, including their appearance (clothing, approximate height, hair color, etc.) and a description of their vehicle, if applicable. A license plate number and any photos or videos of the vehicle would be most useful.
In addition, any time you receive a visit from a commercial solicitor, be sure to request to see their St. Charles Police Department issued ID card, which indicates their name, the company they’re soliciting for, and when their permit expires.
If you are ever suspicious of a solicitor, please call 911 as soon as the incident occurs and provide as much detail about their vehicles (including plate numbers and a photo or video of the vehicles) and the subjects’ physical descriptions.
Electric Utility Phone Scam Alert
Calls Falsely Displaying as the City of St. Charles
The St. Charles Utility Billing office has received reports from residents of scammers posing as representatives of the City. The scam caller ID number has been falsely displaying as the City's main 630.377.4400 number.
The callers have left voicemails which are incomplete, stating "electric bill is overdue, here's your reference number. You need to call immediately."
The voicemail provided each resident with the identical reference number of IL814057 and directed the residents to call back the number 630.381.4057. If you receive a phone call of this nature, do not call back the number provided.
Any contact about your electric services will come from the City of St. Charles Utility Billing office, and the City never demands immediate payment over the phone. If you are contacted about your electric services demanding payment or offering special rates, do not give out any personal or financial information. Hang up and notify the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435.
If you ever have questions about your rates or bill, call our Utility Billing Office directly at 630.377.4426 or email email@example.com.
Appliance Repair Scam Reported
A local restaurant was approached by a man who asked if they needed any repairs on their freezer. The man then asked for a $200 deposit and said he would return. The man never returned to do the repairs and the phone number he provided did not lead back to him.
While this incident involved a business, it's a good idea for everyone to be alerted to this and spread the word. If you suspect you have been approached by a potential scammer, please report it to the St. Charles Police Department 630.377.4435.
Medicare Phone Scam Alert
Scam Involves Callers Posing as Medicare Reps
The St. Charles Police Department has been contacted about a possible scam involving someone claiming to be a representative of ‘Medicare Services of Illinois.’
A resident received a call from a man with an accent calling himself ‘Tony Anderson.’ He said that he had obtained information from Medicare regarding the resident’s back pain, and began asking questions about it.
While the resident said the caller wasn’t selling anything or asking for payment, it is possible that the caller was trying to get her to say “yes,” to consent to additional charges. The resident recognized the suspicious nature of this call and immediately notified the St. Charles Police.
Always remember, do not give out any personal identifying or financial information to callers over the phone. If you suspect the call is a scam, do not answer any of the caller’s questions. Hang up and notify the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435. Nationally, there are reports of scams recording the response to authorize charges but the St. Charles Police Department has not been able to confirm it was this type of scam.
Electric Rate Discount Ending Scam
A caller says you no longer will receive a low, fixed rate and urges a return call to lock in the rate. The City will never call you to “act on” a service rate. The City Council sets electric, water and sewer rates in May, at the beginning of every fiscal year.
If you are contacted about your electric services by an unknown number demanding payment or offering special rates, do not give out any personal or financial information. Hang up and notify the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435. If you ever have questions about your rates or bill, call our Utility Billing Office directly at 630.377.4426.
Scammers Posing as City Employees Target St. Charles Businesses
City Employees will Always Carry an Employee ID Card and wear City-Branded Uniforms
The City’s Utility Billing Division has been alerted to a possible scam involving individuals posing as City Employees and requesting payment in exchange for services, then offering a reimbursement plan.
A local business owner was recently approached at his business by an individual claiming to be a representative of the City. The individual offered to replace all lights in the building with LEDs for $25,000 up front. The individual then claimed that the City would reimburse the business for the cost through a payment plan, and that the business could save money on their utility bills by taking this offer.
Please be aware that this is a scam, as the City does not have any type of reimbursement plans for businesses that switch over to LEDs, and City employees would not demand payment up front for any service.
Additionally, City employees are required to wear City-branded uniforms and carry employee identification badges. If you have any doubts about an individual claiming to be a representative of the City, please ask to see their identification.
Please contact the City’s Utility Billing Division at 630.377.4426 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Be Aware of Scammers Calling Claiming to be from Microsoft
St. Charles residents recently have reported that subjects purporting to be from Microsoft have called several times over the last week, and attempted to “help fix a problem” with residents’ home computers/laptops. The callers have been both male and female, and have a strong foreign accent.
This is a common SCAM, in which offenders will gain a person’s trust. According to Microsoft, once that happens a variety of outcomes can occur, including, but not limited to:
- Having you install malicious software on your computer that could be used to gather personal information.
- The scammers could take control of your computer remotely, which then would allow them to change privacy settings, leaving your computer vulnerable.
- Scammers may ask for credit card information to bill you for phony services.
- You could be directed to fraudulent websites that may ask for your credit card or other personal information.
Neither Microsoft, nor similar companies, makes unsolicited phone calls.
If you receive a call like this, simply hang up. If you feel you have become a victim, and may have given out personal information, like your social security number or credit card information, contact your credit card companies and/or the three credit bureaus: (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax). You may be required to make a police report, which can be done at the St. Charles Police Department.
IRS Scam Warning
The City has received multiple calls in the last few days from residents who stated they were contacted by somebody purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service.
The callers stated that residents owe the government money, and they needed to comply or they would be arrested, perhaps within the hour. Be aware that this is a scam, and has been prevalent for some time. The scam involves scare tactics typically directed toward senior citizens.
This scam has been seen across the country for several years, but incidents seem to spike during tax season. Those who make the calls are reported to be extremely rude, threatening and demanding. Residents should know that the IRS, or any other government entity, does not operate in this manner. Some type of mail correspondence would be sent rather than a phone call. Receiving this type of call should be an immediate red flag. Residents should also ask themselves the following:
- Why would the government want payment on a Green Dot card versus a personal check?
- Have you heard from an accountant or family member that you may owe money?
- If the caller states they are with the St. Charles Police Department, why would a local police department become involved in personal finances?
Offenders are able to “spoof” phone numbers using Voice Over Internet Protocol, which allows phone calls to be placed over the Internet. By spoofing a phone number scammers are able to make it appear via Caller ID that they are calling from a police department or the IRS in Washington, D.C.
Residents should not allow themselves to be bullied by these offenders, and should hang up on them immediately. If there ever is a question as to the legitimacy of a government phone call, contact should be made by the resident to that agency, or contact the St. Charles Police Department for assistance. If you feel you have been a victim of this scam please contact the SCPD to make a report. The IRS does track these reports and is actively working these fraud cases. For additional information please contact: Officer Bill Tynan 630-443-3847.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
- Shred any trash that may contain personal information, including charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, medical statements, checks and bank statements, expired credit and debit cards, and direct mail credit offers.
- Check your credit report annually, at a minimum, by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only place to go to obtain your federally-backed, free report. You may also contact one of the three credit bureaus each fiscal quarter. This method will allow you to keep watch over your credit all year long. The credit bureaus may be contacted by calling Equifax at (800) 525-6285 (www.equifax.com), Experian at (888) 397-3742 (www.experian.com), or TransUnion at (800) 680-7289 (www.transunion.com).
- If a wallet or purse is stolen, notify the local police department to make a report and notify credit card companies, banks, and the social security office as soon as possible.
- Never respond to e-mails that are made to look like legitimate requests from financial institutions to verify usernames, passwords, and other information. No legitimate company conducts business in that manner.
The crime of identity theft occurs in the Tri-Cities and across the United States. Using your personal information, suspects can make fictitious credit cards and use them at brick and mortar stores, as well as online.
For more information, contact the St. Charles Police Department at 630.377.4435.