Water Agencies Warn of Misleading Calls by Scam Artists

Short Title
Water Agencies Warn of Misleading Calls by Scam Artists
Callers claim false reports of water contamination, seek tests at homes
Avoiding scams
  • Be careful of anyone who visits your house claiming you need to have or are required to buy water filters, cleaners, softeners or other products or equipment. Water agencies generally do not sell or endorse these kinds of products or equipment.
  • Be wary of anyone who shows up at your house without warning to collect an overdue water bill. If your service is subject to termination, you will have received overdue notices or other correspondence from your service provider in the mail with instructions for payment.
  • Do not let someone into your home without verifying their references. Imposters may try to use the names of family members, roommates or landlords to say that person asked them to fix or look at something in the home.
  • Do not provide your credit card number to someone who calls threatening to shut off your water unless you pay a bill by credit card. Verify the request with your local water agency by calling the phone number on your water bill or in your phone book; do not use a phone number from someone you think is suspicious.
  • Never reveal your credit card, social security, ATM or personal identification numbers over the phone, the Internet or in person to anyone you do not know and trust. Water agency staff will not ask for money, credit card numbers or the use of your phone.
  • Immediately report suspicious activity to your local police department or sheriff’s office and contact your local water agency.

For the second time in about six months, the San Diego County Water Authority has received several reports of scam artists attempting to mislead homeowners by telling them their water is polluted and offering to test it. There are no water safety problems in the Water Authority’s service area.

The Water Authority has received more than 15 reports of scam calls countywide. Similar regional cons occur periodically, most recently in September 2013.

The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies are not responsible for fixing problems or testing inside private residences and rarely have reason to ask for entry. Water agencies also typically don’t sell or endorse commercial products.

If a water agency representative were to need in-home contact with a customer, someone would call first to make an appointment. Residents are advised that if anyone claiming to be a water utility employee comes to their home without an appointment, they should refuse entry and contact their local water agency.

Legitimate water agency employees will have proper identification, be willing to show it and provide a supervisor’s phone number at the agency for verification. They typically will be driving clearly marked agency vehicles with government license plates.

Homeowners should check any phone number provided for verification with the number for their water agency on their water bill or in the phone book to make sure it is legitimate. Any supposed water agency employee who refuses to wait while the agency is contacted should be considered a fraud and reported to police.

Utility scams take many forms, including requests for bill payment with a credit card, demands that residents buy certain water treatment products and sales pitches for water line insurance. In some cases, imposters go door-to-door. Other times, they operate by phone.  Imposters may work in pairs, with one person talking to a resident while another cases the home for valuables.

Some Water Authority member agencies have posted additional information about the current scam on their websites. Residents who aren’t sure which water agency serves their property can go to sdcwa.org and enter their address under “find your water district.”