Koda Community Crime Prevention Tips
Koda would like to remind everyone to be vigilant of scams. Even though scams are nothing new and many of the scams have been around for years, citizens continue to fall victim to many different types of scams. Criminals have become very creative in the way they attempt to gain personal information. It is not uncommon for a criminal to say they represent reputable and well known companies, including the IRS, Amazon, Google, ComEd, Nicor, Social Security Administration and Illinois Department Of Employment Security. Information sent to unsuspecting victims typically have the well known logos associated with these organizations. Only after examining the information carefully may you find slight differences that could alert you to a fraud.
Recently a few new scams have surfaced and have been reported to law enforcement, including the surrounding area. One of the newest scams involve a debit card arriving in the mail. Some of the most popular scams are listed below. With so many recent data breaches where personal information has been obtained via the web, extra care should be taken when it comes to your personal information. Should anyone attempt to obtain your personal information via the telephone, mail or email, please treat this as a scam until proven otherwise. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry!
IRS Tax Scam: Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals.
The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam.
In the latest twist on a scam related to Social Security numbers, scammers claim to be able to suspend or cancel the victim’s SSN. It’s yet another attempt by con artists to frighten people into returning ‘robocall’ voicemails.
The IRS warns the public about a new twist on the IRS impersonation phone scam whereby criminals fake calls from the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
A sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Unemployment Scam: U.S. citizens from several states have been victimized by criminal actors impersonating the victims and using the victims’ stolen identities to submit fraudulent unemployment insurance claims online. The criminals obtain the stolen identity using a variety of techniques, including the online purchase of stolen PII, previous data breaches, computer intrusions, cold-calling victims while using impersonation scams, email phishing schemes, physical theft of data from individuals or third parties, and from public websites and social media accounts, among other methods. Criminal actors will use third parties or persuade individuals who are victims of other scams or frauds to transfer fraudulent funds to accounts controlled by criminals.
Many victims of identity theft related to unemployment insurance claims do not know they have been targeted until they try to file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits, receive a notification from the state unemployment insurance agency, receive an IRS Form 1099-G showing the benefits collected from unemployment insurance, or get notified by their employer that a claim has been filed while the victim is still employed.
The FBI advises the public to be on the lookout for the following suspicious activities:
Receiving communications regarding unemployment insurance forms when you have not applied for unemployment benefits
Unauthorized transactions on your bank or credit card statements related to unemployment benefits
Any fees involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment insurance
Unsolicited inquires related to unemployment benefits
Fictitious websites and social media pages mimicking those of government agencies
Tips on how to protect yourself: Be wary of telephone calls and text messages, letters, websites, or emails that require you to provide your personal information or other sensitive information, especially birth dates and Social Security numbers. Be cautious with attachments and embedded links within email, especially from an unknown email sender.
Make yourself aware of methods fraudsters are using to obtain PII and how to combat them by following security tips issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, including:
Monitor your bank accounts on a regular basis and request your credit report at least once a year to look for any fraudulent activity. If you believe you are a victim, review your credit report more frequently.
Immediately report unauthorized transactions to your financial institution or credit card provider.
If you suspect you are a victim, immediately contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records. Additionally, notify the Internal Revenue Service by filing an Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) through irs.gov or identitytheft.gov.
Amazon Scam: Emails, text messages, or calls from Amazon will never ask for your personal information. If you receive a suspicious correspondence, here are some tips to determine if it's from Amazon.com.
Amazon will never send you an unsolicited message that asks you to provide sensitive personal information like your social security number, tax ID, bank account number, credit card information, ID questions like your mother's maiden name or your password.
Amazon will never ask you to make a payment outside of our website and will never ask you for remote access to your device.
If you receive a suspicious or fraudulent correspondence, don't share any personal information and report it immediately. Visit Report Suspicious Emails, Phone Calls, Text Messages, or Web pages for more information.
Important: Email and Text Messages. Don't open any attachments or click any links from suspicious emails or text messages. If you've already opened an attachment or clicked a suspicious link, go to Protect Your System.
Suspicious or fraudulent emails, text messages, or webpages not from Amazon.com often contain:
Links to websites that look like Amazon.com, but aren't Amazon.
Note: Legitimate Amazon websites have a dot before “amazon.com” such as
- http://“something”.amazon.com. For example, Amazon Pay website is
- https://pay.amazon.com/. We’ll never send emails with links to an IP address (string of numbers), such as "http://123.456.789.123/amazon.com/". If the link takes you to a site that is not a legitimate amazon domain, then it is likely phishing.
An order confirmation for an item you didn't purchase or an attachment to an order confirmation.
Note: Go to Your Orders to see if there is an order that matches the details in the correspondence. If it doesn't match an order in Your Account in Amazon.com, or in another Amazon international website, the message isn't from Amazon.
- Requests to update payment information that are not linked to an Amazon order you placed or an Amazon service you subscribed to.
Note: Go to Your Orders. If you aren't prompted to update your payment method on that screen, the message isn't from Amazon.
- Attachments or prompts to install software on your device.
- Typos or grammatical errors.
- Forged email addresses to make it look like the email is coming from Amazon.com.
Important: Phone Calls
While some departments at Amazon will make outbound calls to customers, Amazon will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information, or offer you a refund you do not expect.
We recommend that you report any suspicious or fraudulent correspondence. Visit Report Suspicious Emails, Phone Calls, Text Messages, or Web pages for more information.
Spoofing Calls: As people try to screen unwanted phone calls, unscrupulous telemarketers and scam artists have looked for new ways to lure people to answer calls.
One increasingly common technique scam artists use is to falsify or “spoof” their caller ID information with local phone numbers or information to make it look like the calls are from a nearby person or business. While the caller’s information may appear local, the calls are often placed by scam artists who are located outside the state or country.
How It Works
Spoofing technology allows scam artists to trick caller ID into displaying false information. Scam artists realize many people no longer answer calls from phone numbers with unfamiliar area codes or that display no caller ID information, or “unknown,” on their caller ID. By spoofing local phone numbers or information into caller ID devices, scam artists hope their calls will appear familiar enough to entice the recipient to answer.
For example, scam artists might spoof “Illinois Call” or a telephone number that is only a few digits away from the call recipient’s phone number. You might even see your own name and phone number displayed on your caller ID device by these callers.
Scam artists who use spoofing technology perpetrate a wide range of scams designed to steal money or personal information. It is important to be cautious of unsolicited calls from unknown callers—even if their caller ID information appears local. You should never provide personal or financial information to unknown callers.
What You Can Do
Answering spoofed calls alerts the scam artist that your phone number is active and will likely lead to more unwanted calls. Scam artists who use spoofing technology are usually attempting to commit crimes, and criminal callers usually ignore the National Do Not Call Registry. If you receive these calls, you may wish to:
- Hang up. As soon as you recognize the call is a scam or the caller is not a person or organization you know, end the call. It is not rude to hang up on someone trying to scam you.
- Contact your phone company. Your phone company may offer features that block unwanted calls, such as selective ringing, selective call acceptance, and selective call blocking. Some of these features may also be available on your phone for no cost.
Reporting Spoofed Calls: If you received a “spoofed” call, you should report it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission. These agencies have the authority to enforce federal laws that regulate caller ID spoofing, auto-dialed calls, and interstate fraud perpetrated over the phone. You may contact these agencies as follows:
As criminals become more sophisticated with scams please use caution. Always remember to use common sense and follow your gut feeling. There is nothing wrong in not providing information and calling the company or organization back to confirm they are the ones actually attempting to contact you. Always remember that the number displayed on your caller ID may be fraud and manipulated by spoofing software. The Police Department has taken reports in the past where the department phone number was displayed on caller ID and the caller advised that money must be sent or they will be arrested. The phone number was spoofed and was not from the police department. If you receive scam phone calls or spoofed numbers please reach out to your phone company for assistance. Law Enforcement has no way of stopping these type of phone calls from occurring, but your phone company can provide assistance.
If you are ever asked to send a prepaid debit or gift card it is a scam! Reputable companies and organizations do not request prepaid cards as a form of payment. Prepaid cards are requested by criminals because they know they can not be traced. Many times phone calls involved in scams come from outside the United States. These calls make it nearly impossible for law enforcement to track down the scammers. The combination of spoofed phone numbers and prepaid debit cards makes criminal activity nearly impossible for law enforcement to investigate. Please speak with any elderly members of your family and educate them on these types of scams, as they are usually more trusting and many times fall victim to these types of scams. Please remember to obtain copies of your credit reports and monitor them for any suspicious activity. Free copies of credit reports from all three major credit reporting bureaus can be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com.