Your telephone rings and a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power number shows on your caller ID. You answer. The caller says they are a representative of LADWP and want to discuss payment of your late bill. Puzzled, you’re sure you’ve paid your bill. But, the caller insists this is an urgent matter that needs your immediate attention today or you will lose service.
Be careful! Trust your first instinct. The call may seem and sound like it’s legitimate, but chances are it’s a scam known as Caller ID Spoofing.
Using special phone equipment and technology, a scammer can deliberately falsify information on your caller ID display to mask the true origin of the call. The call appears to be from LADWP, but it’s not. Once the caller has your attention, he may try to collect personal information or convince you that a payment is due on your bill when it isn’t.
In the last several months, more than 100 LADWP customers have reported receiving spoofing calls. Other utilities nationwide have reported their customers have been targeted as well. Law enforcement agencies say while it’s often difficult to track down and prosecute telephone scammers, the best defense against getting scammed is information.
RED FLAG WARNINGS
It’s Urgent! Scammers who operate by phone don’t want to give you time to think about their pitch; they convey a sense of urgency to get you to respond fast. Resist pressure to make a decision immediately.
What time is it? Calls often are made multiple times per day and sometimes after normal business hours.
Can you confirm your account? Scammers may ask you to “confirm” your credit card, checking account, or LADWP account number. This is a trick – don’t do it.
You can pay this bill with a pre-paid cash card. Don’t do it. Once the card is purchased, and you provide the caller with the security information, the scammer pretends to pay the bill, but will in fact steal the money.
We’re here to fix the meter. Wait. Does your meter need repair? Did you schedule an appointment with LADWP? Beware. This could be what’s known as a distraction burglary where an LADWP imposter attempts to gain entry to your home to rob you. Never allow anyone inside your residence or yard without proper identification. If you are unsure, call us to verify. If you feel threatened, call the police.
Everyone's a potential target. Fraud isn't limited to race, ethnic background, gender, age, education, or income. That said, some scams seem to concentrate in certain groups. For example, senior citizens may be targeted because the scammer assumes they are gullible.
If you suspect you’ve received a spoofing call, hang up and call us at 1-800-DIAL-DWP to check your account. Or, you can check your bill online at www.ladwp.com. If you’ve made a payment to a suspected scammer, report it to the police department.
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- LADWP does not telemarket home improvement products to reduce your water or energy costs.
- LADWP does not request credit card information, credit card payments or your electricity usage information over the phone.
- LADWP never calls customers outside of regular business hours, except to provide customer-requested outage updates.
- LADWP workers carry department issued badges and drives vehicles and trucks clearly marked with the department logo. Please be aware a person wearing a hard hat or utility vest may not be an LADWP worker.