The caller on the line says he’s a police detective, a district attorney, or maybe a sheriff’s officer. He’s probably not.

Same goes for the call from that supposed IRS agent or the PSE&G rep asking about your bill.

They say you just won the lottery? Dream on.

Here’s an idea: Maybe we should disconnect our phones.

Authorities aren’t recommending we go that far, but they do say that when we get these calls we should just hang up.


• If you get a surprise visit from a utility worker, have the employe provide you with his or her worker's ID and call the utility company yourself to confirm.

• Report suspicious calls or visits to your local police department.

• Report a suspected business scam to Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.

That’s because law enforcement, utilities and credit card companies don’t do financial transactions over the phone.

But that hasn’t stopped hucksters from preying on the unsuspecting and vulnerable.

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office this week said they're investigating three new cases involving calls from con artists claiming to be law enforcement or lawyers.

In one case, an elderly Maryland resident reported getting a call from a Union County “district attorney” requesting wire transfers totaling $5,000 in order to bail out his grandson on a charge of vehicular homicide. His grandson hadn’t been arrested, first of all, and New Jersey doesn’t have district attorneys.

Another case involved a call from a supposed attorney to an elderly Westfield man requesting $1,900 for bail for his grandson. Luckily, an employee at a Western Union branch talked the man out of sending the money, prosecutors said.

In a third case, someone claiming to be from the Union County Sheriff’s Office requested that a county resident return the call. The caller left a fake name and badge number. The resident instead reported the call to police.

Stories like this are common all over the state and country. Often, scammers are able to fleece victims out of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors say all Superior Court matters in New Jersey are handled on paper through the mail — never over the phone.

“It’s imperative that we spread the word about these attempted scams in an effort to ensure that as few people as possible fall victim to them,” Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan said. “We in law enforcement do not request wire transfers of money for any reason, and anyone calling, falsely identifying themselves as police, and asking for such is performing an illegal act.”

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email