Restaurants in Washington state have been targets of a scam, which apparently involves a series of phone calls. The first caller tells the restaurant that it will receive an automated call providing a numeric confirmation code. A second caller, claiming to be a health inspector, requests the code and seeks to set up an in-person restaurant inspection. The caller threatens fines if the restaurant doesn’t cooperate.
Washington State Department of Health officials said that they’ve heard from local health authorities that businesses in Snohomish, Pierce, and King counties have recently received such calls.
Local reports also suggest that the callers may have requested personal information, such as cell phone numbers. So far, local authorities aren’t aware of any restaurants that fell for the ploy.
The Attorney General’s Office encourages anyone who receives a call like this to not participate. Public health inspectors carry official photo identification and do not announce their visits.
While it does not appear that the scammers have asked for social security numbers or bank account information, the Attorney General’s Office reminds businesses that government officials will never ask for such personal information over the phone. Victims who provided personal information to a telephone scammer should place a fraud alert or security freeze on their credit files. ♦
Business owners who believe that they may have been victims of this scam should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov. Additional information and instructions are on the Attorney General’s website at www.atg.wa.gov/freeze.aspx.