Beware of Traffic Light Ticket Phone Scams

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In the wake of the latest traffic safety measures, a new scam is birthed. Traffic light cameras are slowly being implemented across the country. They track your every move, or illegal movement, that is, and wait for anyone who breaks a traffic law. While your minor "run of the red light" may be unintentional or forgotten, you will later receive a photo in the mail confirming your illegal activity. Caught red-handed, you must pay the fine.

Unfortunately, receiving a photo of your latest illegal action isn't the worst that could happen to you. You could also fall prey to the latest phone scam and wind up paying twice for a one-time traffic violation.

In East Texas, scammers are calling victims and warning them about their overdue traffic camera tickets. The criminals are claiming to be the DPS (Department of Public Safety) and requesting money for overdue violations. "They often have identified themselves as representing DPS; they've also said they represent other law enforcement agencies," Texas DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said.

The criminals use intimidation to inflict fear on their victims. "They just call up and say, 'You have an overdue red light camera ticket! If you don't pay right now we will issue a warrant for your arrest'," Mange says.

When the scammers call, they demand payment and a credit card number as well as other personal information. They use the language of DPS officials to sound authentic. According to DPS officials, however, no person in the organization would ever call and request personal information over the phone. "We don't call folks to let them know or remind them that they owe money on traffic fines," says Longview Police officer Kristie Brian. According to Brian, a phone call from anyone associated with a traffic violation should be deemed as a scam. The company they utilize for these types of actions would never notify someone by phone.

The scammers are even going so far as to ask for social security numbers. These types of calls are being reported all over Texas. Spokeswoman Mange is concerned that the transfer of this information could lead to many cases of identity theft.

Texas officials are reminding residents to never offer personal information, credit card numbers, and especially social security numbers over the phone. If you do pick up a suspicious call, write down the number and notify the police immediately.