COVID-19 Scams & Cybersecurity
Unemployment ScamsThe Northbrook Police Department has seen an increase in unemployment scams and warns residents to be cautious. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a spike in imposters filing claims for unemployment benefits with the names and personal information of people who have not filed claims, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
IDES states that an individual who has not filed an unemployment claim but has received a debit card or an unemployment insurance (UI) filing letter in the mail has most likely been the target of fraud.
Here are some tips 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.
- Avoid phishing scams and be cautious of emails with attachments and embedded links, especially from an unknown sender.
- Monitor your bank accounts on a regular basis.
If you think you’ve become a victim of identity theft related to fraudulent unemployment insurance claims, here are a few steps to take:
- Immediately call IDES at 800-814-0513.
- Do not activate the debit card that was mailed to you.
- Report the fraud to your employer, your state unemployment benefits agency, and the IRS.
- File a police report with the Northbrook Police Department via the non-emergency telephone number, 847-564-2060 (ext. 0), or by coming to the Northbrook Police Department.
- Visit identitytheft.gov to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next important recovery steps, like placing a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Review your credit reports often to spot any new fraud quickly.
ComEd has reported an increase in utility-related scam attempts. Criminals are attempting to impersonate ComEd and other trusted organizations to trick consumers into providing personal information or act on urgent requests for payment that are not legitimate, such as:
- Claims that your service will be disconnected unless payment is made
- Requests for cash or to purchase a prepaid card to make a payment
- Cash or credit incentives to obtain personal information
- False employment offerings soliciting personal information
Never provide or confirm personal or financial information to anyone initiating contact with you while claiming to be a ComEd representative whether by phone, in-person, or email. When interacting with ComEd online, ComEd customers should always navigate to ComEd's official website at ComEd.com.
If you believe you have been a target of a scam, we urge you to contact the Police (9-1-1 for emergencies; 847-564-2060 for non-emergencies) to report suspicious activity. For additional information or if you have concerns about the status of your account, please contact ComEd at 1-800-EDISON-1 (1-800-334-7661).
Nicor GasNicor is aware of scams that involve unsolicited phone calls to customers by an individual who falsely claims to be a company representative. The scammer warns that the company will disconnect the customer’s natural gas service if a payment is not made within a short timeframe. Other common tactics include impostor utility scams that duplicate a company’s upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it appears to be legitimate. Some of these scammers also use caller ID spoofing to replicate a company’s customer service number.
Below are additional tips to help identify and protect against scammers:
- Whenever a field service representative or one of our contractors visits your home or business, they will provide proper identification. If you have further concerns, please contact customer care at 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) to confirm that a representative has been scheduled to perform work at your premises. Learn more about how to identify a Nicor Gas employee.
- When a customer service representative contacts you by phone regarding the status of your account or to discuss payment, they will identify that they are a Nicor Gas employee.
- If you want to verify that the call is legitimate, request to have the representative confirm information about your account that only you and the company would know, including the date of your last payment, the amount of your last payment and your account number.
- Nicor Gas will never demand payment by one method such as a prepaid debit/ATM card or checking account.
- Any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of any call from Nicor Gas, especially one in which payment is requested should call us directly at 888.Nicor4U (642.6748). If you feel uncomfortable and know you have an outstanding balance that needs to be resolved, hang up and call us directly.
Cybersecurity Training at Home, Work & SchoolWith attacks from cybercriminals on the rise, you are your network's best defense for cybersecurity. As these kinds of attacks evolve and change, make sure you're educated and aware. The resources below can help equip you with the training you need to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.
Home Users and Students:
In the Classroom:
Unfortunately, reports of scammers taking advantage of society’s coronavirus fears are on the rise. Trust your instincts and don’t let it happen to you – see the tips below and read more from the FTC here:
- Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using robocalls to pitch everything from fake coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list – hang up instead.
- Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, check trusted sources such as federal, state, and local government agencies.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t. Be aware that sellers of unapproved and misbranded products are claiming they can treat or prevent the virus.
- Be aware that email phishing scams are on the rise. You may receive emails related to the coronavirus that look real but are intended to install malware if you click a link or open attachments. Keep an eye out for misspellings, odd domain names, unknown senders, and requests for personal information. Delete any suspicious emails.
- Don’t respond to suspicious texts and emails about checks from the government.
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Don’t click on any links or attachments – instead, try retyping the website address in a browser window.
- Ignore offers online or from telemarketers for "coronavirus vaccinations."
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.