Water Authority Urges Local Residents to Beware of Water Agency Imposters


Short Title
Water Authority Urges Local Residents to Beware of Water Agency Imposters

EDITOR'S NOTE: Imposter warning tip sheet below
February 05, 2007

The San Diego County Water Authority is warning residents countywide to watch out for individuals posing as employees of the San Diego Water Authority or employees of a local water utility. Typically, these imposters arrive without an appointment and try to gain entry into a home by saying they have been sent to check the home’s water system or test water quality. The imposter’s intent may be theft or fraud.

The Water Authority is issuing this warning after receiving a report of a possible imposter approaching homes in Santee claiming to be a San Diego Water Authority employee. There is no governmental agency called the San Diego Water Authority. This person may target Hispanic homeowners, especially new homeowners. Concerned individuals can call the San Diego County Water Authority at (858) 522-6600.

The Water Authority and its member agencies are not responsible for fixing problems or testing inside private residences and rarely have reason to ask for entry. Residents are advised that if anyone claiming to be a water utility employee comes to their home they should refuse entry and contact their local water agency.

A legitimate water agency employee will have proper identification, be willing to show it and provide a supervisor's phone number at the agency for verification. Homeowners should check any phone number provided with the number for their water agency on their water bill or in the phone book to ensure that it is legitimate. Any supposed water agency employee who refuses to wait while the water agency is contacted for verification should be considered a fraud and police should be notified promptly.

The Water Authority has developed a “tip sheet” on what to look for and how to respond if contacted (see below).

Water Authority Urges Local Residents to Beware of Water Agency Imposters

Follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim:

    •    Be suspicious if someone shows up without an appointment asking to check your water flow, water quality or any other water-related issue or problem inside the home. Water agencies rarely are responsible for fixing problems or testing water quality inside private residences and almost never have reason to ask for entry. If a water agency were to need in-home contact with a resident, someone would call first to make an appointment.
    •    Be wary of someone who visits in person without warning to collect an overdue bill. If your service is subject to being discontinued, you will have received overdue notices or other correspondence from your water agency in the mail, with instructions on how to pay.
    •    Some imposters might know the names of residents or property owners through various forms of identity theft or public records. The imposters may try to use the names of family members, roommates, or landlords to say that person asked them to come fix or look at something in the home. Do not let someone into your home without verifying such a claim with the named family member, roommate, landlord, etc.
    •    Be wary of someone who visits your home without warning claiming you “need to have ” or are “required to buy” water filters, cleaners, softeners or other products or equipment for your home. Water agencies generally do not sell or endorse these kinds of products or equipment.
    •    If someone calls on the phone threatening to shut off your water unless you immediately pay an overdue bill by credit card, do not provide your credit card number. 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 telephone calling card or personal identification numbers (PIN) over the phone, the Internet or in person to anyone you are not familiar with.
    •    Water agency staff will not ask for money, credit card numbers, or to use your phone.
    •    If you live alone and someone unfamiliar approaches you, imply there is another person with you in your home, or indicate that someone will be returning momentarily.
    •    Imposters may work in pairs, with one person talking to the resident while the other accesses other parts of the home looking for valuables.
    •    If an incident does occur, report it to your local police department or sheriff’s office and contact your local water agency immediately. The San Diego County Water Authority can be reached at (858) 522-6600.

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