When restaurateurs receive notice of an upcoming health inspection, they usually react by getting out the mop and the disinfectant, not the number for the local police department.
But restaurant owners in the Los Angeles area are being asked to do just that. The L.A. Police Department (LAPD) and County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) have issued a news release warning local dining establishments that they may be the target of a scam.
Recently, several restaurant owners have reported receiving calls from individuals claiming to be health inspectors. These “inspectors” request personal information, such as employee phone numbers, claiming that the information is necessary for a forthcoming inspection. They then provide owners with an identification number and the date and time of the inspection. However, when that date arrives, no health inspector shows up.
The LAPD and LACDPH are helping restaurant owners identify false health inspectors by providing them with the criteria for a legitimate LACDPH health officer. A county health inspector must:
— Introduce themselves to the owner or manager
– Possess a county-issued photo identification card
– Provide a county-issued business card upon request
– Never accept payments for an inspection or any other services at the time of inspections. Owners/managers will be directed to the local Environmental Health Office, Environmental Health headquarters, ot the County Treaturer Tax Collector for payment of any and all fees.
– Not charge money for fees for a County Letter Grade, hand washing signs, or other signage or equipment.
– Not accept gifts or gratuities, including food or beverage, for any reason.
The LAPD and LACDPH are urging anyone who suspects they have been contacted by a fraudulent health inspector to contact the LACDPH. They advise restaurateurs not to give out private information, and to ask callers for a name and contact number.
So far, officials have not determined whether the information obtained by the suspicious callers has been used in an unlawful manner.
For the news release, click here.