Local News

Jun 18, 2010 6:55 PM

New scam targets small business owners

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department is warning small business owners of a fraud scheme that has been reported in other parts of California.

According to the Stanislaus County Department of Environmental Resources, food facilities and other small businesses in northern California reported receiving phone calls from people posing as health inspectors. The "health inspector" calls to announce a new procedure for arranging a health inspection.

The business owner is instructed to follow a procedure to get a special "code" to confirm the upcoming inspection. Later the business owner receives a second call asking for the "confirmation code."

According to the health department, the calls are part of a larger fraud scheme involving setting up "verified" accounts with a national online auction service. The purpose of the "code" request is to get the business owner to provide false verification to the online auction service, which establishes a bogus online account to be used in other fraud schemes.

Food facilities owners/operators should be aware of this scam and can protect themselves by understanding:

* San Luis Obispo County Environmental Health Services does not announce inspections in advance, will not call in advance of an inspection requesting information and will not call to schedule an inspection (there may be rare exceptions).

* Environmental Health Services has not developed a new inspection procedure.

* If you do not recognize your inspector, please ask for proper photo identification.

* Never give out personal or business identification information over the phone unless you are certain of the identity of the person with whom you are speaking.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call San Luis Obispo County Environmental Health Services at (805) 781-5544.

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