GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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May 25, 2013

Scam calls for security service reach Essex

ESSEX — A scam that proliferated in Arizona earlier this year has come to Essex.

At least one local resident received an unsolicited “robocall” purporting that the Essex Police Department was encouraging local residents to purchase home security systems, and recommending an Arizona security company to install and do the work.

The resident was suspicious and reported the call to police shortly after receiving it Wednesday evening. It turns out the resident was right to be leery.

The call was the product of caller-ID spoofing technology, Essex police Sgt. Paul Francis said Friday. The technology allows callers to use automated dialers to place hundreds of calls while disguising the originating phone number; the number on the recipient’s caller ID display that is not that of the actual originating phone.

An Essex detective had called the company named in the robocall and discovered it was legitimate business, but that it was not placing the calls, Francis said. The detective also discovered that the security company has already filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission for such calls placed in Arizona, according to Francis.

According to the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona, a region hit by a rash of such calls in January, most, if not all, of the calls violate the Do Not Call Registry and a 2009 federal law forbidding the use of robocall solicitations.

The call generally instructs the consumer to press 1 to be connected to a live representative or 2 to be deleted from the call list. Many who choose to speak to a representative end up divulging credit card information to pay upfront fees for services, according to the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona, and they usually get little or nothing in return.

When dealing with robocalls offering home security systems or reduced credit card interest rates, the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona advises that consumers hang up and not press 2 in hopes of being deleted from the call list.

Essex’s detectives are continuing to investigate.

Andrea Holbrook may be reached at 978-283-7000 x3456, or aholbrook@eagletribune.com

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