Two telephone scams are growing in frequency in Delaware as 2021 gets underway.
According to the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, State Police and the Department of Correction, callers are threatening probationers with re-arrest for allegedly committing new crimes. One caller pressed a person to deliver cash at a specific location.
Scammers sometimes spoof their phone numbers to make the call appear to be from a legitimate agency.
Legitimate law enforcement agencies and the courts do not demand payments in cash or gift cards over the phone.
“We see the same pattern almost every year: scammers impersonate agents of the Courts or of law enforcement to scare vulnerable people into giving up untraceable money they can scarcely afford to lose,” Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “Let me be crystal clear: nobody from the DOJ, the Courts, or law enforcement will ever demand immediate payment over the phone, let alone in cash or gift cards. When in doubt, hang up, look up the agency’s real number, and call them.”
Also, the new year has brought an increase in false phone solicitations said to be on behalf of Delaware volunteer fire companies or EMS organizations.
According to the Delaware Volunteer Firefighter’s Association, most companies in Delaware do not fundraise over the phone.
Callers who receive such a solicitation should ask for written verification of the organization. Even if that verification comes, it’s advised that the recipient takes the extra step and checks it out with the local volunteer fire company or the Association to confirm that it’s legitimate.
Otherwise, the call may be a scam.
The Delaware DOJ shared the following information and tips to avoid being scammed:
The Delaware Courts, DOJ, DOC, and DSP remind the public that nobody associated with the court system has, or will, ever call and demand cash.
The DOJ also reminds residents to be extra diligent about this or other telephone scams by:
- Never agreeing—unless you have initiated the call—to pay any fine or other money over the phone, including by purchasing a money order or gift card at a store and providing the number to someone over the phone or by email. Government agencies will not contact you to make payments by phone.
- Being extra careful when answering calls from unknown numbers or unfamiliar persons. Scams can be “spoofed” to appear to be coming from a local number, even though the call is originating from out of state or overseas.
- If in doubt, Delawareans can hang up on a caller claiming to be from an official agency, look up the agency’s number, and call it to confirm the authenticity of the call.
- Hanging up on threatening callers, particularly threats of arrest.
Anyone who believes that they have been the victim of these calls, or of any other crime, should contact local law enforcement.
Payments can be made to a specific court. Also, the agencies emphasized that payments for Court-imposed costs, fines and restitution and for probationary fees, like interstate compact and supervision, are collected by the Office of State Court Collections Enforcement (OSCCE) in person at OSCCE office locations, on-line through its website, by phone-in with a credit card or at approved Payment Kiosk locations in a variety of state offices. Learn more about OSCCE payment collections and locations at https://courts.delaware.gov/aoc/oscce/epayments.aspx and https://courts.delaware.gov/aoc/oscce/locations.aspx. Individuals should be suspicious of any request they receive requesting or demanding payment of any fines, fees, and costs by any other means.
Anyone who has a question, or need assistance in paying any of these assessments, please contact the Office of State Court Collections Enforcement at (302) 255-0339.