Monday, March 28, 2011

New York: Broome County Warns of Restaurant Scam

By Jennifer Fusco

Beware: Broome County health officials are warning local restaurants about a scam going around where people are posing as health inspectors in an attempt to fraudulently collect information.

The county Health Department, in a Monday news release, said it was notified of this activity by local restaurant owners who were suspicious of dialogue they've had over the phone with supposed inspectors.

"Local restaurants are advised to take caution and alert local authorities of any suspicious callers identifying themselves as inspectors or health officials," said Christopher Coddington, Broome County director of environmental health. "For the most part, our health inspectors conduct unannounced visits and do not collect confidential information over the phone."

This activity has been reported in other communities throughout the nation, county officials said. Many restaurateurs have described imposters requesting personal information and demanding to schedule inspections over the phone.

They seek to gain information for the purposes of identity theft and may provide fictional access codes, the county said. Others have reported the imposters as attempting to gain access to restaurants during off hours.

County food inspectors do not collect information over the phone and do not issue fines to businesses for "failing to schedule inspections," according to the county. Broome County health inspectors have authorized photo identification and businesses should always ask to see inspectors' identification.

Source: Press

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