Yesterday the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) sent out a news release warning restaurateurs of a potential scam targeting local restaurants. Both organizations say they've received numerous calls from restaurant owners saying that they've been contacted by people claiming to be health inspectors. These callers ask for personal information — like employees' phone numbers — claiming that they need such information for future visits, and are then provide a time for that inspection. But no so-called inspectors show up. Of course they don't.

The LAPD and LACDPH are advising restaurant owners and managers to be aware of how to identify real health inspectors, and to call the LACDPH if they've been contacted by someone claiming to be a heath inspector. Don't give out any information: get some from them instead. The 6 pointers from the news release are after the jump, including three emphasizing that inspectors may not be paid for good grades. That's Yelp, remember?

1. LACDPH inspectors are required to introduce themselves to the owner or manager.

2. They must always possess a County-issued photo identification card.

3. Inspectors should provide a County-issued business card upon request.

4. 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.

5. Inspectors do not charge money or fees for a County Letter Grade, hand washing signs, or other signage or equipment.

6. Inspectors do not accept gifts or gratuities, including food or beverage, for any reason.

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.

Download the news release here: NR11103kr Restaurateurs Beware.doc

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