By Aaron Blevins, 2/14/2013
Impostors posing as utility personnel are contacting Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) residential customers by telephone and threatening immediate service termination as a means of forcing payment for fictional account balances, the department’s Security Services Division has reported.
During the phone call, the impostor provides a phone number and instructs customers to purchase pre-paid cash cards for the fictional account balance and then call back once they have the card to provide the unique card number and PIN, and thereby pay their “bill.”
The department reminds all customers that LADWP employees will never contact customers and ask for personal payment information over the telephone.
Payment by telephone can only happen through the department’s voice automated payment system, not with live employees. LADWP personnel do not accept payment information verbally over the telephone.
“These thugs are preying on the most vulnerable people in society, particularly seniors on fixed incomes who would be alarmed to hear that their water and power might be cut off,” LADWP director of security services Patrick Findley said. “Public awareness is our best protection. DWP will never call you and ask for a cash card or credit card number or other personal financial information so if you get a call like that, hang up and call (800)DIAL-DWP. We’ve got the LAPD working hard on this, and we will catch these scammers.”
Additionally, any customer who is contacted or visited by LADWP personnel can confirm their employment and purpose of contact with the department by calling (800)DIAL-DWP prior to engaging with them.