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IID cautions public: Scams are on the rise, offenders getting more brazen

Post Date:12/06/2018 5:30 PM

The Imperial Irrigation District wishes to advise customers that fraudulent activity has been on the rise.

The district has received reports from several customers over the last few days, in both the Imperial and Coachella valleys, who state that they have been solicited by fraudulent callers who threaten to disconnect their electricity if payment is not immediately made.

In one of the most brazen attempts this week, IID and local law enforcement agencies are investigating an incident in which a scammer not only contacted a potential victim over the phone, but also approached the customer at their home, wearing clothing in an attempt to impersonate an IID employee.

In that case, the Heber resident refused payment and immediately contacted the Sheriff’s Department.

“We’ve had a number of reports in the last few days,” said Mike Beltran, IID’s revenue protection coordinator. “And we need the public’s continued collaboration to help stop them.”

The public’s vigilance makes a difference, he added. Within the last few weeks, IID was able to shut down two fraudulent 1-800 numbers. The district was able to do that “only because of the quick response of customers,” he said.

Customers are asked to be suspicious if contacted by anyone who threatens to shut off their power. Because many scammers attempt to “spoof” IID’s number (mask their real phone number to make it look like the IID is calling the customer), customers should not simply redial the number, but instead, call IID directly. The Call Center can be reached at 1-800-303-7756 (toll free) or at 1-760-335-3640.

When it comes to disconnecting someone, IID does not call residential customers demanding payment. Rather, customers are notified by mail, door hangers or through IID’s automated courtesy-alert phone system. The district, further, does not insist on the method of payment (money order, pre-paid Visa card, etc.)

For more information on how to protect against fraud, visit www.iid.com/identitytheft.

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