Types of Scams

Rolling Meadows Police Department Dedicated to Excellence

​Types of Scams

  • Green Dot Money Card
  • Solicitors
  • Contracts
  • Ruse Burglaries
  • Telemarketing
  • Foreign Lottery
  • Phishing Emails
  • Grandparent Scam
  • Affordable Health Care/Obamacare Scams
  • IRS Scam
  • Smishing
  • IRS-ITUNES Gift Cards

​Green Dot Money Card Scam

Scammers call telling you that you have won a lottery, your computer has a virus, and even the IRS needs money now and you need to pay the taxes first before they can send you the money. They ask you to put a certain amount of money on Green Dot cards, like $150 or $300. You can put up to $500 on one card, so they may tell you to buy 3 and put $500 on each one. Once you go the store, pay $9.95 to active the card, then put your own hard earned money on this card, the scammers will have you call them or they will call you back asking for the 14-digit prepaid Green Dot Card number (like on Visa card), so they can take the money off this card. And you will never get any money in return because the lottery is a scam. Remember, the green dot money pak card is not the scam. The scam is this scenario where a scammer calls telling you that you won money and asking you to put YOUR money ON this green dot money pak card. Don’t fall for this! Anyone who asks you to get a money card such as this one is a SCAM!

The City of Rolling Meadows issues permits to solicitors; this does not mean the City endorses the product. It just means the individual solicitor has received a permit allowing them to solicit in the City. It is your  right to view the permit and see identification. Any person selling anything at your door SHOULD HAVE with/on them the City permit and their identification, so ASK THEM TO SEE IT. If they do not have it, because their boss has it or it’s “in the car”, call the police 911 and advise what the solicitor is selling, what they are wearing and their location so an officer can be dispatched to investigate and possibly cite them.
​Contract Fraud

These are the traveling contractors who show up at your door saying they were just in the area, had extra material, wanted to give you a great deal, only today! They often provide you with no estimate or paperwork, don’t have a business card and do not have a name on their truck. They are rarely licensed or insured and will ask you for money up front. Usually they will never return to do the work or the work they do will not hold up. Just say NO and call the police to report this type of issue. When you need a contractor for a home improvement job, get at least 3 estimates from reputable, local contractors, and call the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints lodged against them. 

Ruse Burglaries

This type of burglary is committed when two or more traveling criminals attempt to distract you. Beware of anyone who comes to your door, catches you in your garage or outside and asks you to come into your backyard or go down into your basement. The whole purpose is to get you distracted, so a second or third per-son can enter your home, go to your bedroom and look through your dresser drawers for money and jewelry. It only takes a few minutes. Then the second or third person leaves your home and you never even knew they were in there. The first person who distracts you may tell you they are a City worker or contracted by the City and he/she needs to trim your tree, or look in your basement for a water issue, etc. There are a million reasons he/she may give. Bottom line: Anytime someone you DON’T know asks to come into your home or asks you to go outside, consider this a huge red flag. Call 911 and report this immediately so an officer can investigate.

If you receive a phone call from someone asking you for any personal information, such as bank account numbers, Social Security number, credit card number, etc.—this is highly suspicious. NEVER give them any information. Find out where they claim to be from (for example, your bank) and call there directly yourself. Then, get on the DO NOT CALL LIST by calling 1-888-382-1222 or visiting www.donotcall.gov
Foreign Lottery

You will get a call or letter claiming you have won a sweepstakes or lottery out of the country. They ask you to pay for processing, taxes or delivery. Legitimate lotteries WILL NEVER ask you to send or wire money to pay taxes. You may even receive a check that looks totally legitimate for a partial amount. They will ask you to send a MoneyGram or wire transfer to them to cover costs before you get the remainder of your winnings. DO NOT DEPOSIT THIS CHECK! because then, you will get notification that their check bounced and on top of being scammed, you will have to pay an NSF fee to your bank for their bounced check! and the best part...The check will be returned to the scammer with valuable information about your bank account! No one ever receives a penny except for the scammers. Ask yourself, did you even enter a foreign lottery? DO NOT FALL VICTIM!!
Phishing Emails

Be careful of “phishing emails”, such as ones telling you that you have a package that was unable to be delivered. If you click on any links in these emails, viruses will be loaded onto your computer and possible ID theft will occur once the hacker can obtain personal information from your computer. Most common phishing type email will leave your computer locked with a page that has an FBI warning saying you must pay a fine immediately to have your computer unlocked. NEVER, ever click on links when receiving suspicious emails. Never respond. Delete them immediately!! Unfortunately if this happens your computer will be hacked and you may have to seek professional assitance to remove the virus and will lose all the information on your hard drive.
Grandparent Scam

This scam is when a grandparent receives a call from someone claiming to be their “favorite grandchild” and saying they are in trouble…whether car trouble to being out with friends and is now in jail, some sob story hoping the grandaprent will fall for it. They are usually out of the country as well. They will need money wired immediately, and they will tell you NOT to tell their parents. They may say it doesn’t “sound” like them because they have a cold, stitches in their lip from the car accident, broken nose from a fight, etc. They may even have a second person pretending to be a “lawyer” as well. ALWAYS verify the whereabouts of your grandchild BEFORE you ever wire money. Take a few extra minutes to call that grandchild or call their parents. Don’t be pressured to act instantly. Once your money is wired out of the country, it is gone for good and we can't help you.
Affordable Health Care Scam

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare,” scammers are finding it to be the latest opportunity to steal people’s identities. Scammers are calling consumers claiming they are eligible for health insurance cards in exchange for personal information. You will receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The scammer says that you have been selected to be part of a group of Americans to receive insurance cards. But before the card can be mailed, your bank account and social security numbers are required. Once they get this information, they can sell it or use it to access your accounts. The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to people who experience the affordable healthcare scams: hang up the phone, do not press any buttons that the scammer instructs, never give out personal information, don’t rely on caller ID (some scammers are able to display a company’s name or phone number on the caller ID screen). The government rarely communicates via phone calls. Most of the time, the government uses traditional mail services to communicate with consumers. For more tips and information about affordable healthcare scams, visit www.bbb.org


The way this works is that a person will call you either on your cell phone or home phone claiming to be from the IRS. This person will tell you that you owe back taxes and that if you do not pay IMMEDIATELY the agent will be contacting the local police and they will respond to arrest you immediately...UNLESS, you are willing to pay the amount they tell you to pay. This person will also tell you to stay on the phone with them and instruct you to proceed to either your bank, or most commonly a CVS or Walmart to obtain a Green Dot Money card or another money card. This person will also tell you to place the maximum amount of money that you are able to place on the card. Usually $500 and tell you to purchase as many as your agreement was agreed upon. For example this person may say you owe the IRS $5000 and ask you if you have this amount on hand. When you say no, this person will ask how much can you get right now. You may say that you have access to $1000 at which point you will agree to this amount and purchase 2 Green Dot cards for $500 each. This person will ask you for the code on the back of the card and will instantly obtain your money. Fact: The IRS WILL NOT EVER force you to pay an amount immediately nor will they ever call you by phone forcing you to pay a settled amount. If you receive this type of call ignore it. If you happen to pick up the line or call them back after a message is left tell the agent that you will be contacting the police. The scammer will try to get you to cooperate and not get the police involved this is also a red flag that this is a scam. A legitimate IRS agent will allow the police to be involved and will notify the local police department if needed.Please do not fall victim to this most common scam. An actual voice message and text call can be heard at the police department's Facebook Page here or the department's YouTube channel here.

Smishing is spam text messages that are sent to cellphones.  The real problem arises when you actually respond to these micro-messages. Cellphone texts, 70% of the time, are actually spam messages designed to defraud you in some way. The thieves use inexpensive, hard-to-track prepared phones to transmit a myriad of text messages designed to entice you.  When the word spreads about the spam of the day, the scammers simply toss the phones they are using and buy new ones.  Also, cellphone users are three times more likely to respond to spam than computer users because you usually have your cellphone with you and answering the text message becomes more of an “impulse reaction."
 Smishing or unwanted text messages are worse than phishing emails for three reasons:

1.You can’t delete it without opening it first.
2.You have to pay for it, the sender pays nothing
3. There is no way to stop it!  Unfortunately, you can’t install an anti spam program on your cellphone. 

The question then becomes, can I stop it?
•Check with your carrier about blocking texts that only come from the internet.  Your contacts, using their cell phones, can still text you.  
•Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts.  This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a live, active contact for more cellphone spam. Never dial call-back numbers, either.
•Forward texts to 7726 (spam on most keyboards).  This will alert your cellphone carrier to block future texts from those numbers. 
•Beware of sneaky tricks - like free or cheap downloads. Ringtones are a prime example.  Once you download, you have established a “prior business relationship” that allows the provider to legally send cellphone spam text messages.
•File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission at www.FCC.gov.
•Get on the Do Not Call List by adding your cellphone number, along with your landline phone at www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.

Telephone Computer Scam/Microsoft Scam

This scam is widespread and has been going on for a few years.

To summarize, the scammer calls the victim and states that he is from a computer servicing company. He/she asks if the person has a computer, knowing full well that most households have
at least one, and if it has Windows, which is the operating system on the vast majority of personal computers. The caller will then describe various computer viruses and problems that he can help the person remove easily and quickly. The caller then directs the person to press a series of buttons on the keyboard, which results in the display of a list of files and errors that are completely ordinary and
innocuous; however, most people do not know this. The caller uses this list to convince the person that their computer is horribly infected. The caller then informs the victim that he can sell the person the software needed to repair these dangerous issues. The caller then requests personal and financial information, which he can use to steal from the person’s banking accounts and to open new accounts to commit identity theft. The software, if any is provided, is worthless and is likely an
attempt to allow the caller remote access to the person’s computer to gather more personal and financial information. 

Here is an example of the directions the caller may provide the person to follow:

  •  Open the “Run” window by pressing both the “Windows” key and the letter “R”on the keyboard.
  •  Type in a command such as “inf” (for the system info) or “eventvwr” (for the event viewer).
  •  This provides the aforementioned list of common and harmless errors.
When pressed, the caller will provide information for an actual computer services company, but these legitimate companies are uninvolved. Microsoft, the maker of Windows, cautions its customers that they do not contact customers in this manner or request personal or financial information over the phone. If you receive such a call, provide no information and hang up immediately. This type of offender is called a “scam artist” for good reason: they are very creative and very good actors, so they are often very successful at defrauding people by convincing them to provide personal information. Don’t give them the opportunity! Report this to the Police if you have any information such as a company name or telephone number that was displayed and recorded on your phone’s caller ID.



IRS impersonators are demanding payments on iTunes and other gift cards. The IRS reminds taxpayers that any request to settle a tax bill by putting money on  any form of a gift card is a clear indication of a scam.

Since these bogus calls can take many forms and scammers are constantly changing their strategies, knowing the telltale signs is the best way to avoid becoming a victim.  

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you don’t owe taxes, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. HANG UP IMMEDIATELY-DO NOT HAVE A CONVERSATION!
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.