Authorities on Wednesday warned Southlanders about criminals who have been telephoning people and falsely telling them they must pay their utility bills with a pre-paid cash card or face immediate service termination.
The phony calls have been increasing in frequency in the last few months, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. Department of Water and Power.
“The scam involves imposters posing as utility personnel, contacting customers by telephone, and informing them they are behind in payment of their bill,” the LAPD said in a statement.
Scammers threaten to cut off service unless the customer buys a pre-paid cash card and then calls a telephone number staffed by criminals who receive card information to “pay” the fictional utility bill, according to police.
“The LADWP offers customers numerous options to pay their bills,” police said, adding that the only way to pay by phone is through an automated payment system.
LADWP employees never call customers to ask them to pay a bill over the phone, nor are they allowed to accept payment information verbally over the phone, according to police.
“It is unlikely a customer will be facing immediate service termination without prior knowledge,” police said.
Any customer with questions about being contacted by the LADWP should call (800) DIAL-DWP to confirm that the person contacting him or her is an actual employee of the utility, according to police.
Also, people suspecting they are victims of a crime can call Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS, according to police.