Riverside County businesses need to be alert to a scam involving individuals passing themselves off as official fire equipment technicians and asking for immediate payment to service fire extinguishers, county officials said Wednesday.
According to the fire department, the scam came to light after an undisclosed number of commercial outlets were contacted by representatives claiming to be from a Gilroy-based company.
Officials said the firm is not under contract with the county and has not been authorized to conduct inspections on behalf of the fire department.
The individuals that have visited area businesses removed extinguishers, then returned them with tags indicating they had been serviced. In each case, the individuals submitted an invoice for payment prior to service.
“(The) Riverside County Fire Department is asking that businesses avoid this scam by asking for a proof of proper license, not to pay up-front for any services, and not to pay in cash,” according to a fire department statement. “Business inspections are done by uniformed personnel. They should have a badge clearly displayed, a fire department logo on their uniform shirt, and a fire department identification card.”
Officials advised business owners to obtain an estimate prior to any inspection of extinguishers, sprinkler systems or fire alarms, to confirm the identity of the person conducting the inspection and be wary of anyone who shows up unsolicited to perform one.
Anyone who suspects they have been contacted or victimized by a bogus inspector should call the fire department’s Fire Prevention Bureau at (951) 943-4970.