Locals warn of fraudulent bill collectors
October 15, 2013Several businesses around town have been hit by phony bill collectors demanding money lately. You should always be on guard against fake invoices and scam phone calls, but the recent string of fraudulent billers means everyone needs to be extra wary.
A few months ago, a scammer tried to get some money out of Smokey's Lake Wohlford Café under the guise of enforcing a new law.
"I got a phone call from a company saying they were some fire inspector," said Phyllis Kamps, co-owner of the café. The phony inspector claimed that the café needed to get their fire-extinguisher and equipment re-certified, but Kamps wasn't buying it.
"First off, show me the proof," she told them. After Kamps asked more about the new law and demanded to see a confirmation email, the fraud hung-up and hasn't called back since.
George Lucia, fire marshal for the Valley Center Fire Protection District (VCFPD), sent out a statement last week with some advice for the community: "The Valley Center Fire Protection District and neighboring fire departments conduct their own business fire inspections at least once a year. We are always in uniform with identification and always interact in-person. Please do not pay service invoices that are not confirmed. Should you ever have any concerns please call the VCFPD office at 760-751-7600."
Fat Ivor's Rib Rack was recently the target of a similar scam, this time from someone purporting to be a representative for SDG&E. According to Patrick Prettyman, owner, the crook demanded $500 or else the power for Fat Ivor's would be shut off. He immediately notified all the other local restaurants that there was a fraud on the prowl. "Just call the actual company first on the real number," advised Prettyman.
These fake bill collectors can be very convincing. They will often call from a local area code and use official language. Don't buy it! If you are ever uncertain about someone demanding money, double-check and call the appropriate agency yourself.