TINLEY PARK, IL — Village officials are warning residents of scam phone calls asking for late fees from missed court dates or parking tickets to be paid via gift card. Police announced Friday they will never ask for money over the phone or without prior notice.

According to a statement from police, the scam calls have become increasingly more likely with scammers even using real Tinley Park Police Department officers’ names to make them sound legitimate. Experts told Patch the best way to avoid scammers is to run every piece of information by authorities before committing to any payment.

The full ruse involves a fake police official calling a resident and asking them to purchase a gift card in the amount of money they apparently owe police. Oftentimes, officials said, these are large sums.

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“Once victims buy the cards, scammers ask them to call back with the gift card’s account number,” police said in a statement. “The scammer then removes the cash value of the gift card, which is left with the unsuspecting victim.”

Tinley Park police advised residents to never pay an official agency using a gift card, always keep an eye on their credit card statements and to be wary of spam text or email links, especially as the holiday season begins.

Find out what’s happening in Tinley Park with free, real-time updates from Patch.

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