DPS Warns Of Phone Scammers Seeking Personal Info To Settle Tickets

The Department of Public Safety says scammers are calling people to demand they pay overdue red light tickets. As David Pitman reports, the motivation for these calls appears to be identity theft.

The DPS says the scam goes like this — someone claiming to be from the department calls a random number, and tells whoever answers that he or she has an outstanding red light camera ticket.  The scammer demands personal information to settle the ticket, or an arrest warrant will be issued.  

Tela Mange, who actually is with the DPS, says the department has nothing to do with red light camera violations.  Also, the department never contacts people about any tickets they receive. 

"We just want to make sure that people remember that if someone calls them, unsolicited, over the telephone and demands that you give them your birth date, your credit card number, your social security number, you should never give that information out, because they're not going to use it in a good way."

None of the people who've reported getting the calls had received any tickets recently — or, if they had, they'd already paid the fines.  Still, Mange says the intimidation factor that comes with these phony law enforcement calls can compel some people to do the wrong thing.

"They really don't want to go through the hassle of having to deal with an arrest warrant, so they want that problem to go away.  Unfortunately, their willingness to provide all this information makes it really easy for someone to commit identity theft."

Mange says investigators are trying to track down where these calls are coming from.  The DPS is asking people who receive a call demanding payment for a ticket to write down whatever number shows up on Caller ID, and tell local police about it right away.

Bio photo of David Pitman

David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...