After a woman in Old Orchard Beach had her car searched by someone impersonating a cop, here are a few tips on how to protect yourself.

The BDN reports it happened Tuesday night, when a woman and her male companion were pulled over by a man in a black Crown Victoria that had blue and red lights flashing on the dashboard. The man didn't show identification and refused to give his name. The couple allowed him to search their vehicle and then he let them go.

It's a scary situation, because you don't know who that person is, but you don't want to get busted for resisting arrest, just in case they're genuine. On the other hand, you're allowing someone you suspect to be a fake search your vehicle. So what do you do? I posed the question to Google and came up with some excellent tips from CNN.

First, pull over in a public area. If you're not sure that the car pursuing you is actually a cop, don't pull over on a desolate piece of road. Slow down to signal to the other driver that you intend to pull over, but drive to a more populated area before stopping. You want witnesses if the person is up to no good.

Second, keep your windows cracked and doors locked. The immediate reaction to a 'cop' walking up to your car is to put the windows all the way down. But if you're unsure about whether they're the real thing, don't give them access to reaching into your vehicle.

Third, ask for identification (through the cracked window) and for their name. In the Old Orchard Beach case, the person didn't have ID and refused to give their name. This is a HUGE red flag. Police officers have no problem showing you their credentials and identifying themselves as legitimate police.

Fourth, tell the person you want him to call for another officer in a marked vehicle. It will probably annoy him but, if he's an actual officer, he'll understand that you're only looking out for yourself. If he's a real police officer, than he can radio for another, marked cruiser to arrive on scene, confirming that he's actually who he says he is.

Finally, call 911. You can do this at any point during the exchange, because you have the right to protect yourself. Tell the 911 operator that you've been pulled over by an unmarked car and you want to confirm that it's an actual police officer. They'll ask for the license plate number, description of the vehicle, and whether the officer gave you his name. If he's a fake, the operator will advise you about what to do next.

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