Northumbrian Water is encouraging people to be extra vigilant of bogus callers as winter approaches.
More than 50% of bogus callers – people who pretend to be someone they are not so they can enter and steal from a home – claim to be from a water company, or ‘the water board”.
The clocks will be going back in the next couple of weeks and as the dark nights set in, it’s even more important than ever to be aware of these callous conmen.
Nichola Shields, Customer Service Manager at Northumbrian Water said: “All Northumbrian Water employees carry official ID cards and anyone who receives a visit from someone claiming to be from the ‘water company’ should always ask to see ID and examine it closely, whether the call is expected or not.
“If people are in any doubt, they should not let the visitor in. Our employees will not mind if they are asked to wait outside while the occupant checks their identification with the company. If there are any serious concerns, residents should phone us or the police immediately.
“It is also worth remembering that as well as bogus callers turning up at people’s homes, a common trick is to target people by telephone. Don’t give out your personal details over the phone and if you receive any suspicious calls, we urge customers to report them to us directly.”
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: "We support Northumbrian Water on their attempts to educate customers as there are people in our society who prey on kind, generous people by falsely claiming to be from a legitimate organisation.
"Our advice is never let someone who cold calls into your home - no matter how genuine they seem. Always check their ID, if they are genuine they will not mind waiting while their ID is checked.
“Never hand over money to someone who knocks on the door without checking out their credentials. If in any doubt please contact a family member, friend, neighbour or the police.”
Other recommended precautions include:
Make sure front and back doors are locked at all times
Look to see if there′s a vehicle nearby that carries the Northumbrian Water logo
Use a door chain or speak to the caller through a locked door while confirming their identity. Ask them to pass their identity card through the letterbox.
If the caller claims to be from the ‘water board’, this is not a term that is in use any longer, so ask to see their identity card and leave them outside until their credentials have been verified.
Register a password with Northumbrian Water.This can be done at https://www.nwl.co.uk/your-home/your-services/Register.aspx or by calling 0345 7171100.