Arlington Heights Police, FTC Warn of Utility Bill Scams That Ask For Payment by Greendot, Paypal, Prepaid Gift Cards

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Arlington Heights Police Department reported two businesses scammed by fraudulent offenders claiming to be calling from ComEd and calling to collect past due bills. Whether this is an alarming new trend in our area, or the fraud being reported more, the scammers are finding some success targeting businesses.

The offenders have used fraud involving Green Dot Money Pak, but additionally have also asked for Reloadit or Paypal cards for payment. These scams work because they prey upon human emotion.

The lists below outline how the scammer operates, how to prevent becoming a victim and what do to after the call is received.

The Scam
Scammer calls pretending to be from ComEd, the IRS, or with an official with the county or police department.

Scammer tells victims that that they owe money for overdue electric bills, past due taxes, or fines and fees

Scammer tells victims that they can make immediate payment via Green Dot Money Pak Card, a Reloadit card, or a PayPal card.

Prevent Becoming a Victim
Hang up once you detect a scam — regardless of what number is on the caller ID. Scammers can use a digital technology trick known as Caller ID Spoofing to cause the victim’s caller ID display to read a false number. The scammer could even cause the caller ID display to show “ComEd” and one of any of ComEd telephone numbers. Caller ID spoofing is illegal, but it can be done from outside of the United States — making it difficult or impossible to prosecute.

People should never provide payment over the phone with a Green Dot Money Pak Card, a Reloadit card, or a PayPal card; or through a wire transfer.

After a Suspicious Call
If a person is worried about a possible debt, the the person should call ComEd, the IRS or the courthouse, for example, with a telephone number found on your own, not a number provided by someone else. People should always obtain a phone number from the official website for the actual agency.

People should never provide payment over the phone with a Green Dot Money Pak Card, a Reloadit card, or a PayPal card; or through a wire transfer.

Other scams, such as the Grandparent scam, operate with similar utilization of Green Dot or Money Pak, etc. In the Grandparent scam, offenders call potential victims, and might claim that they are the police, and that the victim’s grandson needs money for bail.

It may seem foolish on the part of the victim that these scams can occur, but there are times when victim’s are overloaded with work, sick or fatigued, and possibly met with a coincidence that seems believable, which then causes a slip of security.

If a Person Has Been Scammed
Victims should the police immediately to report the incident. Depending on the type scam, the victim may need to put a freeze on accounts or get new accounts. However, offenders that scam with Green Dot usually immediately withdraw money before victims have a chance to realize they might have been scammed.

The FTC has been warning about scams involving GreenDot, PayPal and prepaid cards at least since September 2013.

See also …

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