“We would never ask customers to hand over money or give a card payment on their doorstep. Never let anyone into your home without checking their identification first,” commented Grace Marren from Severn Trent Water. That was the advice from the water company, who has received reports from customers that conmen are trying new ways to get access to their homes and take money off them.
Recent cases include a conman knocking on doors in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and telling homeowners that he needed to take payment for an outstanding water bill, the conman even had a card machine. Another case involved a customer being asked to pay a fee to reconnect their water supply.
Grace explained: “We can’t stress enough how important it is for our customers to check the identity of the person knocking the door. It doesn’t matter how well dressed they are, what equipment they’re carrying or how convincing they look, we would never ask our customers to hand over money at the door. The very fact that they had a card machine is worrying. Likewise we’d never try to get access to our customers’ homes to fix pipes or fit meters without organising an appointment first.
“If someone knocks your door claiming to be from Severn Trent, ‘the water company’ or ‘the water board’, tell them to wait or ask them to call back and call us straight away on 0345 604 1655 to check the credibility of the person calling. No matter what time we’ll be there, this number is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our employees fully expect you to check their identity, with a card or a call and they will wait while you carry out the necessary checks.”
The water company said that by setting up a password now – either online at stwater.co.uk/doorstep-password or over the phone on 03457 500 500 – customers can feel safer in the knowledge that if a Severn Trent Water employee does genuinely need access to their home or account details, he or she will know the chosen word.
Grace added: “Remember ID cards can also be faked, so it’s best to check the caller’s identity by ringing a number you’ve found from another source – such as your water bill or our website (stwater.co.uk). Don’t automatically assume the phone number on the card is valid.
“To stay one step ahead, it’s best to keep our number to hand should someone show up at your door or call or write to you unexpectedly. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s always better to be prepared. We’re also encouraging customers to remind friends, family members and neighbours about how they can protect themselves. To make sure the message gets across, we need to work together.”