INDIO, Calif. - Indio police are warning businesses of a scam in which a caller posing as a utility employee asks for payment using a prepaid MoneyPak card. Indio Police Department Sgt. Dan Marshall said someone posing as an Imperial Irrigation District employee calls a business requesting payment for a past due utility bill.
This is how it works the caller says there has been a problem with the payment source -- a check was written incorrectly or the bank rejected an electronic payment. The caller infers that if payment isn't made immediately, the business's utilities will be shut off at the end of the day. The caller tells the victim to go to a store and get a MoneyPak card, then asks for the prepaid payment card's account number, ``and the balance on the card is immediately spent,'' Marshall said. ``Once the account number is provided, the money cannot be returned and it is difficult to locate where the actual transaction occurred,'' he said.
Here's something to keep in mind so you don't fall victim to this or a similar scam -- Imperial Irrigation District will never ask for payments in that way, so, that should be your first red flag.
Here's tips in case you receive a similar call:
- Ask who's calling and why. Telemarketers must tell you it's a sales call, the name of the seller and what they're selling before they make their pitch. If they don't, say "no thanks," and get off the phone.
- Consider why you are being asked to "confirm" your information. Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They're trying to get you to say "okay" so they can claim you approved a charge.
- Limit your calls. Place your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222. - Do not share personal information. This especially goes for your bank or credit card number, social security number, address or Medicare number.
- Get it in writing. Before you make a purchase or donation over the phone, ask the caller to send you written material. If they do not have your address, do not give it to them.
- Talk it over. Do not agree to buy anything, donate or subscribe to any service without talking it over with someone you know and trust.
Any customer who gets a suspicious phone call about a utility payment should call Imperial Irrigation District at (800) 303-7756. If the utility says the call is a hoax, the customer should call law enforcement.