News

Palo Alto Utilities Department warns against scam

Automated call alleges 16 percent rate increase; city staff urge residents to report calls to the police

The City of Palo Alto Utilities Department is warning residents about a scam in which customers get a call from someone claiming to have information about changing rates.

According to a warning on the department's website, the scammer is claiming to have vital information about a resident's utility service. The department learned about the scam Monday, after receiving a call from a resident.

Catherine Elvert, Utilities Department spokeswoman, said the customer received what sounded like an automated call informing him that the Utilities Department is preparing to install "monitoring meters" and that this will lead to a 16 percent rate increase. The resident was instructed to press a button if he wished to dispute the raise. He instead called the Utilities Department to report the scam.

Elvert said the Utilities Department is not installing these meters and would not use an automated call to notify residents about rate increases.

"And we'd never tie something like that to a rate increase," Elvert said. "We evaluate our rates every year based on cost of service and adjust rates accordingly."

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If any calls from the Utilities Department seem 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 or the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.

Information on consumer protection, telemarketing schemes, credit card fraud and identity theft can be found here.

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Palo Alto Utilities Department warns against scam

Automated call alleges 16 percent rate increase; city staff urge residents to report calls to the police

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 21, 2015, 8:14 am

The City of Palo Alto Utilities Department is warning residents about a scam in which customers get a call from someone claiming to have information about changing rates.

According to a warning on the department's website, the scammer is claiming to have vital information about a resident's utility service. The department learned about the scam Monday, after receiving a call from a resident.

Catherine Elvert, Utilities Department spokeswoman, said the customer received what sounded like an automated call informing him that the Utilities Department is preparing to install "monitoring meters" and that this will lead to a 16 percent rate increase. The resident was instructed to press a button if he wished to dispute the raise. He instead called the Utilities Department to report the scam.

Elvert said the Utilities Department is not installing these meters and would not use an automated call to notify residents about rate increases.

"And we'd never tie something like that to a rate increase," Elvert said. "We evaluate our rates every year based on cost of service and adjust rates accordingly."

If any calls from the Utilities Department seem 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 or the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.

Information on consumer protection, telemarketing schemes, credit card fraud and identity theft can be found here.

Comments

Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:07 am
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:07 am
9 people like this

Come on, Utilities. Solve this Silicon Valley style.

Set up a honeypot phone number that masquerades as a subscriber, which can trace all calls to their origin. When they call, find 'em and bust 'em.


Eh?
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:34 am
Eh?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:34 am
10 people like this

Sooooo...... What's the "scam?" What do they get out of someone pushing a button on their phone?


cur mudgeon
Greenmeadow
on Jul 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm
cur mudgeon, Greenmeadow
on Jul 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm
3 people like this

We get calls like this all the time. We hang up. All a scam. And yes, we are on the Do Not Call list, but that doesn't stop scammers.


Eh?
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 4:52 pm
Eh?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 4:52 pm
4 people like this

Per dictionary.com:

Scam: (Noun) a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.

How are these phone calls a scam? Obviously they are not from the utilities dept, so they are fraudulent, but what are the "scammers" getting out of making these calls?"

Stunned the article is so lacking in information.


ChrisC
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm
ChrisC, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jul 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm
4 people like this

The sad thing is who would disbelieve a 16% increase in our utility bill?


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