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Daily Journal
     June 18, 2020      #14-170 KDJ
 

Kankakee County sheriff warns about scammers 

Daily Journal staff report

KANKAKEE — Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey is warning residents, particularly in the rural Grant Park area, of several reports of similar scams in the area.

In one instance, the victim received an unsolicited knock on the door by a subject claiming to be an employee of ComEd wishing to discuss property lines with the homeowner in an effort to get the homeowner out of the house. While the homeowner was engaged with the subject, an accomplice burglarized the unsecured home.

According to another report, a victim was asked to pay an extremely unreasonably high price for having her driveway sealed by subjects that performed the task without being requested to do so by the homeowner.

In another reported incident, a rural Grant Park resident was called by someone claiming to be a police officer from another town requesting money for the caller’s wife, who the caller reported to be involved in an accident.

The same caller later changed the scenario by suggesting that he was holding the caller’s wife hostage until he received ransom.

“All of these incidents, which have been reported within the last several days, occurred in the rural Grant Park area where the victims claimed that the ‘scammers’ were Hispanic males,” Downey said.

“We remind area residents to always remain skeptical when approached by an unsolicited person(s) demanding money,” he said. “We always encourage residents to contact their local law enforcement if/when they suspect a potential scam and to talk with family/neighbors, particularly the elderly or otherwise vulnerable, to make them aware of the scams.”

Protect yourself

Utilities offer tips to avoid scams and impostors:

ComEd

A ComEd field employee may knock on your door if the utility is unable to access its equipment, such as the meter or pedestal transformer.

You can identify a ComEd employee by the following:

• Uniform: All ComEd field employees wear a uniform with the ComEd logo, including a shirt and safety vest

• ID: Employees will be wearing a ComEd ID badge with their name and ComEd listed

• Vehicle: ComEd vehicles are white in color with a ComEd insignia on the car or truck

To confirm that someone is truly a ComEd employee, call 1-800-334-7661 before engaging with the person.

ComEd says customers should to be wary about sharing the following information: ComEd account number, account passwords, information on last payment, Social Security number or a copy of your energy bill.

If at any time you are uncomfortable, or you feel you are experiencing suspicious behavior, call 1-800-334-7661.

Nicor

All Nicor field employees wear company uniforms branded with the company name and logo. In addition to navy work pants, field employees wear a variety of beige shirts, navy jackets and hats, all with the Nicor Gas logo. Even their neon yellow safety vests feature the Nicor name and logo.

Whenever a field service representative or one of its contractors visits your home or business, they will provide Nicor Gas identification. If you’re concerned about work being done at your home or business, contact customer care at 888-642-6748 to confirm that a representative has been scheduled to perform work at your premises.

When a customer service representative contacts you by phone regarding the status of your account or to discuss payment, you can verify that the call is legitimate by requesting to have the representative confirm information about your account that only you and the company would know — date and amount of your last payment, your account number, etc. 

Nicor Gas will never demand payment by one method such as prepaid debit/ATM card or checking account.

Nicor Gas will never knock on your door and ask to see your bill or ask for your account number. Any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of any visit from Nicor Gas, or call (especially one in which payment is requested), should call Nicor directly. If you feel uncomfortable and know you have an outstanding balance that needs to be resolved, hang up and call the utility directly.

Also, Nicor will never ask for account or credit card information in an email. 

Aqua Illinois

All Aqua employees carry company ID. In all cases of interaction with someone claiming to be with Aqua Illinois, confirm the representative’s identification before letting them into your home.

All employees dress in Aqua-branded attire. Company vehicles (mostly white Chevrolets) prominently display the Aqua Illinois logo.

If you encounter someone who is pretending to be an Aqua employee, the utility asks that you call your local police department and report them.

In most cases, the only time Aqua would need to be inside your home is to service or exchange a meter or to respond to a problem about which you called the utility. In the former case, Aqua would contact you by mail or phone to schedule an appointment first. 

There are a few exceptions when you might receive an unannounced visit from Aqua:

• An employee might come to your door to make you aware of an unscheduled service outage, such as a main break. In this case, the employee would not need to access the inside of your home. An Aqua employee might also make an unannounced visit to investigate a property that has had multiple “zero usage” bills or an account that has not had a meter read for more than 45 days.

• If a meter reader has trouble getting a remote meter read from outside your home, he might ask to enter you home to read the meter, in which case he would present a photo ID card.

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