Restaurateurs Beware NR0103kr

March 8, 2011

Los Angeles:     The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) have joined forces to warn restaurant owners of a potential scam targeting local eateries.

The LAPD and LACDPH have received numerous calls from restaurant owners in the Los Angeles area of telephone calls they have received from individuals claiming to be health inspectors.  These individuals ask for personal information, including employees’ phone numbers, insisting they need the information for a future inspection.

Once the individual obtains the information requested, they provide the restaurant owners with an identification number, or pin number, and tell the owners that they will visited by inspectors on a specific date and time for a formal inspection.  However, on the planned date and time no one shows up.

Restaurant owners and managers should be aware of certain criteria which will help them know if they are dealing with a legitimate LACDPH inspector:

LACDPH inspectors are required to introduce themselves to the owner or manager
They must always possess a County-issued photo identification card
Inspectors should provide a County-issued business card upon request
Inspectors never accept payments for an inspection or any other services at the time of inspections. Owner/managers will be directed to the local Environmental Health Office, Environmental Health headquarters, or the County Treasurer Tax Collector for payment of any and all fees.
Inspectors do not charge money or fees for a County Letter Grade, hand washing signs, or other signage or equipment
Inspectors do not accept gifts or gratuities, including food or beverage, for any reason

Should a restaurateur receive a call from somebody claiming to be a health inspector, the LAPD and the LACDPH recommend that they contact the LACDPH; do not give out any personal, private or secure information, and be sure to obtain a name and contact number for the caller. At this time purpose of the calls, and whether the intent is to use the information in an unlawful manner, have not been confirmed.

The Bureau of District Surveillance and Enforcement for Public Health’s Environmental Health Program can be reached at 626-430-5200. Health officials who answer will be able to confirm whether the person is, in fact, a legitimate health inspector.