A scam seeking overdue funds from restaurants currently is underway in Bucks County like the ‘phishing’ scheme that hit many establishments in 2011, according to the county Health Department.

To date, two fraudulent scams have been attempted, but officials “feel confident” more will be tried.

“They call the establishment, say they’re from the Health Department, and then say that they owe money for fees, or have violations they have to pay for, or have an expired license they want payment for now,” said Debbie Mumbauer, Health Department manager. “The calls usually come in on anonymous lines, or the caller is spoofing another line and is possibly coming from another country.”

The fraudulent telephone practice, often called “phishing,” involves a trustworthy voice seeking sensitive data like a password or credit card number.

“That was their goal in 2011,” she said. “I remember being told at that time that these people cycle through an area for a time. They will call our restaurants for a month or two then move onto another part of the country.”

Mumbauer said that in addition to the two known attempts, other scam phone calls may have already been made but not reported to authorities by a restaurant.

Said she: “There are many more that haven’t been reported to us.”

Vigilance is key in the fight against ‘phishing,’ said the health department spokesperson.

“We wanted to be proactive this time around and try and get the message out to our restaurant owners to hopefully prevent them from getting hurt,” said Mumbauer. “We would just like all of the facilities that we license and inspect to know that the Health Department does not and never will call an establishment asking for payment of any kind for anything.”

Telephone scams often hit the public, too, and the magazine Personal Computer has offered protection tips.

“To avoid the embarrassment of giving away your sensitive data to a fraud, make use of available resources such as password managers and the phishing-detection system in your antivirus,” according to the publication.

“But keep your own eyes open to spot any frauds that get through,” it said, recommending you don’t touch anything from a suspicious link, with no HTTPs lock in the address bar or with a suspicious appearance “in any way.”

“Protect yourself from phishing.”

Readers can reach Greg Vellner at gvellner@verizon.net.

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