OSP and DoJ warn of ticket collection scam

Scammers claiming to be with the Oregon State Police are placing pre-recorded phone calls to Oregonians telling them they owe money for unpaid traffic tickets and asking that a Green Dot MoneyPak card be used to make the payment. These calls, which may begin with a siren sound, are fraudulent and should be ignored, warned the OSP and the Oregon Department of Justice.

On March 26, OSP got a report of the scam when a citizen reported getting a phone call from a restricted number. Following a siren sound, an automated voice identified himself as “Alex James Murphy with the Oregon State Police.” The caller stated a “bench warrant” had been issued on an unpaid speeding ticket issued on Interstate 205.

The pre-recorded call gave further instructions to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak reloadable debit card and place $154 on the card, then call back to another phone number in the (203) area code and provide the Green Dot card number and security code to pay the citation and avoid further legal action.

In November 2012, OSP received complaints from citizens regarding similar telephone calls from individuals claiming to be OSP troopers demanding money in exchange for dropping criminal charges or clearing arrest warrants. Two similar cases involved callers using titles of “Officer” and “Deputy.”

OSP reminds you to be aware that:

n OSP or any other legitimate law enforcement agency does not call citizens seeking payment for outstanding traffic citations.

n OSP does not call individuals and demand money from citizens under any circumstances.

n Individuals claiming to collect debts may try to instill fear in potential victims to persuade them to forward money.

The Oregon Judicial Department advises that courts may use an independent collection service to collect unpaid monetary judgments and fines. If someone believes they are being scammed regarding an alleged unpaid traffic citation or other court-imposed financial obligation they can:

n Ask the collector (caller) for information specific to the alleged unpaid traffic citation. The caller should have the court case number, date of ticket and vehicle license number.

n Verify the debt or confirm other details by calling the OJD collections hotline at 1-888-564-2828.

n Use OJD Courts ePay to directly pay money owed to state courts for most traffic citations, civil fees or criminal fines.

(For more information go to http://1.usa.gov/14yH7bt.)

According to Oregon Department of Justice, Green Dot MoneyPak cards and similar cash-load cards have been the focus of scammers around the country to defraud unsuspecting people. Avoid reacting to requests requiring you to purchase MoneyPaks, but if you do purchase one for any reason treat it like cash because unlike credit cards, MoneyPak transactions can never be reversed.

The Green Dot Corporation is aware of similar scams and has a link on its website to tips from the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (StopFraud.gov).

If you receive a similar call, disconnect without providing any information or taking any instructions from the caller. Contact your local police department, sheriff’s office or Oregon State Police.

You may also file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection Office via the Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or complete a consumer complaint form anytime at http://bit.ly/YLRPUP.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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