Papers, Please!

Well today on Facebook I saw this post from an American friend of mine who lives and works in Cluj:

Cluj crime alert: some guy in a (stolen?) uniform is knocking on doors, showing (fake?) ID and claiming to be a chimney inspector. He then comes into the house and issues a (bogus) license in exchange for a fee which proves to be strangely negotiable. Saw it happen today. Don’t let this guy into your home.

One more time, for anybody living in or visiting Romania, from both my book and my blog:

If you ever have some kind of “confrontation” with police, legitimate officers or “fakes”, do not show them any ID, do not give them anything, don’t sign anything, don’t take anything from them (tickets, fines, whatever), do not do jack squat with them. If they insist on something, go with them to the police station. Period. If something truly and honestly is going on and it somehow involves you, go to the station. Walk into the big building with the words Politia outside and deal with whatever it is there.

If anyone in a uniform, police or railroad official or bus inspector or anyone else wants money from you, do not give it to them, ever. There are no fees for entering or exiting Romania. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to pay any Romanian official who is not working inside a government building, period. Are we clear on this? Good, I hope so.

I know people who operate businesses here. I know people who have multiple legal issues. I know foreigners, including people with darker-hued skins. I even know a handful of Gypsies. No matter what, never, ever give anyone anything, especially money, outside of a government building. Don’t sign anything, don’t show them your passport or other ID, don’t do anything.

Parking tickets, fines, legitimate papers, legitimate taxes, legitimate licenses, registrations and everything else are always paid for inside a government building. Always.

As for people living here, there are a variety of other scams and semi-scams, including guys who offer to spray your house for bugs, decontaminate things (such as your trash cans) and other “services”. A lot of times they act like it’s “mandatory” that they do this but in every case it’s a situation where you must pay them if you accept their offer. You are never, ever, required or obligated to let someone do anything to your house or your apartment or your property. Furthermore, you never need to let someone in your house either.

If there’s a major situation, the police will throw handcuffs on you and drag you down to the police station. Otherwise never let anyone in your house that you haven’t expressly invited (such as the cable guys, etc).

Occasionally something will occur in the bloc that requires someone visiting your residence, such as the guys who read the electricity or water meters. In those cases, a notice will always appear on the bulletin board in the main hallway ahead of time.

Be safe! Don’t fork over papers, money or anything else to anyone outside of an official government building, ever.