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.