Thieves often pose as utility company officials to trick their way into people’s homes before stealing money or valuables. The elderly and vulnerable people living alone are particularly at risk.
About a fifth of the 3,193 distraction burglaries reported in England and Wales in 2014/15 involved callers claiming to be from a water company, or ‘water board’ which no longer exists. But an estimated 90 per cent of this sort of crime goes unreported because many victims are too embarrassed or scared to report it.
South West Water is urging customers to heed the Consumer Council for Water’s advice: “If you are not sure, don’t open the door.”
Buster Brown, South West Water’s Security & Emergency Planning Manager, said: “If you are expecting a visit from South West Water, you can contact our helpline on 0344 346 2020 to register a password for that visit. When the member of staff arrives, ask for the password and to see their identification before letting them into your home. All staff involved in our work carry identity cards and will produce this at your door.
“If you are not expecting a visit from us but the caller has South West Water identification, you can call our helpline to check they are genuine. Our staff, or anyone working for us, will be happy to wait outside while you call. They will never try and stop you making the call. If in doubt, do not let the person in.”
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