New Castle News

Police Reports

November 21, 2013

Police, commissioners warn of scams

NEW CASTLE — The city police, county commissioners and a citizen are warning about letter and phone scams soliciting money or personal information.

Several such incidents have been reported lately in Lawrence County involving a letter selling property and deed information, and phone callers leaving messages and/or trying to get personal or computer information.

The Lawrence County commissioners issued a news release yesterday warning home buyers to beware of a letter scam that involves paying fees for deed copies.

The commissioners warn that a supposed company going by “Record Transfer Service” has sent letters to new homeowners trying to sell copies of property deeds and profiles for $83.

Contrary to that offer, property deeds can be purchased legitimately at the county Register and Recorders office in the courthouse for 50 cents per page, and property record cards may be obtained for $1 each from the county assessor’s office.

Additionally, every property owner in the county can access his or her property profile in the assessment office or online at courhouseonline.com, free of charge.

“Record Transfer Service,” is located at 1776 I St. NW, 9th Floor, Washington, D.C. However, other processing notices had a mailing address of Wilmington, Del., the commissioners’ news release notes.

They advise that the notice also identifies public information that is misleading or incorrect.

 When someone purchases a home, the title or closing company should process the deed, so there is no need to pay a secondary agency for what the property owner can obtain from the courthouse for a few dollars, the commissioners advise.

They emphasized that the processing notices are not coming from a governmental agency.

In another incident, a Pulaski Township woman said a caller on her home voicemail said he was from the Pennsylvania Courts Records Office (of which there is no such thing in Lawrence County) and was looking for a way to contact her.

Her caller ID showed that the call came from the number of the Lawrence County Government Center.

However, the given callback number, (866) 467-0518, is not the courthouse and when one calls it back, there is automation and a recording and it asks for a person’s name.

 The male caller said that the office attempted to serve the woman twice for a criminal case, and that she or her attorney were to contact the Regional Mediation Law Firm, supposedly at the 866 number provided.

 “They had the last four digits of my Social Security number,” the woman said, but the caller wanted to know how to reach her. She said she did not talk to anyone personally.

 Instead, she contacted the Lawrence County sheriff and district attorney’s offices, and learned the Pennsylvania Courts Records Office does not exist.

 “I was afraid the elderly would fall into this,” the woman said, fearing the person is calling other people, too, and that someone might inadvertently give out their personal information.

She added that she looked up the number on whitepages.com and Googled it and couldn’t find it.

New Castle police chief Bobby Salem warned that people never should give out any personal information about themselves, either online or over the phone.

“We’ve received a lot of information lately about scams asking for personal information, and one asks for the last four digits of Social Security numbers,” he said.

One person received a call from someone who said he was representing a cable company and that the person’s IP address was compromised. The caller wanted access to the individual’s computers, Salem said. “When we looked into it, it was a scam.”

He encourages anyone who has any doubts to contact the local police and they will investigate it, but repeated, “Never give any personal information out.”

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