As the holiday season brings a flurry of shopping and travel, the Wheaton Police Department encourages you to take extra safety precautions and be on the lookout for an anticipated rise in scam attempts. Here are some safety suggestions and red flags that will help you identify scams during the holidays.
Beware of Scams:
- You cannot pay bail, a lawyer, the IRS, or tech support using retail gift cards. If someone demands to be paid with a gift card, it's a scam.
- Never give gift card numbers on the back of gift cards to someone you don't know.
- Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will never be a call from out of the blue, but through official mail. A big red flag for these scams is angry, threatening calls from people who say they are the IRS, urging immediate payment.
- If someone who sounds like a loved one calls you claiming to be in trouble and demands payment, hang up the phone and call your loved one's cell phone.
- In general, it's a good idea to ignore phone calls if you don't recognize the number. If it's someone you know, they will leave a voicemail or send you a text.
- Scammers often train their victims to give false information to retail clerks when clerks ask questions about large gift card purchases. If a retail clerk warns you that you may be the victim of a gift card scam, heed the advice of the cashiers and call your loved one, or call law enforcement officials.
Home Safety Tips for the Holidays:
Vacation House Watch is a police service that helps protect unoccupied homes while Wheaton residents are away on business or travel. Police will inspect homes periodically to help ensure their security. You can enroll online through the City’s website.
Please note that requests may only be made by the homeowner. If your plans change and you will be returning sooner or later than the dates originally stated, please call the Wheaton Police Department at 630-260-2161 as soon as possible.
Do not use the vacation house watch program if someone is going to be at the home caring for pets, plants, etc. This program is also not for if the house is vacant due to being for sale or other circumstances.