How many times have you picked up a ringing telephone to be greeted with a brief electronic pause followed by a voice that identifies the caller as a representative of an official-sounding organization thanking you for your past donations and asking for more?
Worse yet, how often does that happen when you’ve put yourself on the no-call list and the call comes in anyway, particularly on Sundays? Or when you’ve paid for caller identification and no information flashes onto the little screen on your cordless phone?
If the caller is asking for money, Pepperell police have an answer.
Don’t agree to anything. Ask for the caller’s telephone number. Better yet, ask the caller to mail their information to you.
Peters spoke to security in the home. Greathead addressed financial crimes.
Here are some tips:
* When you’re not home for more than a day, try to make your house seem occupied. Everyone knows about lights, but how about running a radio or the television?
* Notify police when leaving on a trip. Cancel deliveries of mail and newspapers.
* Arrange for a neighbor to mow the lawn or shovel the driveway.
* Install a dead-bolt and a peephole in your door.
* Never let a stranger into the home. If they ask to use the phone, offer to make the call for them.
* If you suspect a stranger may be inside when you arrive home, don’t go in. Leave, and call 911.
* Never leave an “I’ll be back in …” note on the door. (People really do that!)
“Don’t be embarrassed to call us if you left your door open by mistake,” Greathead said. “Don’t go in. We will when you call. We do it all the time. That’s what you pay us for. Ten or 15 minutes out of our time is worth it if someone doesn’t get hurt.”
As for telephone or e-mail or snail mail offers — if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t, the officers said.
“If you were told you won something and it wasn’t the Massachusetts lottery, it’s a scam,” Greathead said. “Particularly if you won something without entering anything. And don’t send that $100 to hold your spot to that promised appointment in Florida.”
* If a lottery isn’t local, don’t fall for it.
* There are scam artists who change the name of a bonafide organization slightly to fool you.
* The Massachusetts Police Association does not look outside its membership for donations.
* Local police see not a dime from donations to police chiefs and other organizations.
* Never give your date of birth, social security number, or middle name over the telephone or Internet.
* Look around before using an ATM machine. Camera phones have been used to photograph personal identification numbers.
“If you ask someone for a number and don’t think it is a good one, call us. We’ll call them, or the attorney general’s office,” Greathead said.