The City of Palo Alto Utilities Department is warning residents and businesses about a scam in which the thieves phone residents or business owners, posing as utilities department staff.
The scammer tells the person that the utilities bill is overdue and threatens to the shut off the power immediately if the bill is not paid over the phone immediately using a credit card, according to a press release.
The utilities department became aware of the scam Thursday afternoon, Sept. 5, when a Palo Alto business owner received a suspicious call and notified utilities. Department officials are unsure of the scope of the scam but have notified police.
The department found that the source of the calls was an entity that identifies itself as "Department of Water and Power" from the Los Angeles area.
The City of Palo Alto Utilities Department, which will identify itself specifically as such when calling, will send out multiple written warnings before shutting power to residences or businesses, the release stated.
If any calls from the utilities department seems suspect, or the caller asks for money or other personal information, the Palo Alto Utilities Department urges residents to hang up and call the Customer Service Center at 650-329-2161, where representatives can verify whether the caller was from city utilities.