By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
In today’s world, there are a number of phone, computer, or mail “scams” taking place. People can unwittingly become a victim of a larceny or identity theft by sending money to unconfirmed locations or providing personal / bank information. Our department has recently been investigating several phone scams which are rather concerning. I wanted to bring this information to the attention of the readers of this column in the event you may receive similar calls.
At least two area residents have reported receiving phone calls from people presenting themselves as law enforcement officials. They inform the victim that they owe outstanding fines or money on a loan. The people are then threatened to have a warrant issued for their arrest if they do not pay these amounts. Some people have been coerced into sending money. They are told to purchase pre-paid debit cards and provide the callers with the card numbers.
Anyone receiving a call threatening them with arrest will be very concerned. Should you receive a call of this nature, never do business in this manner. Obtain what ever call back information you are able to gather about the caller. Things such as phone numbers, addresses, e-mail or web site information can be important for any action later. The next step is to contact your local police and your financial institutions. The police, your bank, credit card companies, etc will know if you owe money or if fines are outstanding in any way. If you receive a call from a law enforcement agency which is not local, you should be able to find legitimate contact information for them on your own. This can be done via the internet or through the White or Yellow pages.
Legitimate calls of this nature would rarely, if ever, take place. Most fines assessed by the police are collected by other government agencies (Registry, Courts, local Town Clerk, Tax Collector, etc.). With this in mind, always be suspicious if you receive a phone request of this nature from a law enforcement agency. As a general rule, try to avoid conducting business over the phone unless you are sure of the people you are dealing with. If everything is legitimate, there should be time to research any request or demand. Some simple steps can allow you to make informed decisions and avoid becoming a victim.
I wish to take a moment to thank Worcester Country District Attorney Joseph Early and his staff, as well as Shepherd Hill High Principal Pierangeli, for sponsoring a distracted driving program at the school on Tuesday, March 26th. A great number of students were on hand to learn some of the dangers associated with distractions while driving, particularly the use of cell phones. The program was very informative and we hope this can be expanded out to other area locations in order to prevent future tragedies on the roads.