Watch out for ‘water board’ bogus callers

Bogus callers are targeting homes claiming to be from the ‘water board’ warns water companies as the festive season gets underway.

Many bogus callers targeting elderly or vulnerable people commonly claim to be from the ‘water board’ to gain access to people’s homes. In fact the ‘water board’ hasn’t existed since 1974 when the water authorities were created.

Steve George, from South East Water, said, “We know that Christmas can be a time that opportunist thieves take advantage of vulnerable people, knowing that there are new presents and gifts in the home. So we want to get the message out to customers that there are simple steps that can be taken to stay safe. As an added security measure, customers can set up a password for their account which all our staff will use when knocking on the door.”

South East Water and Southern Water customers should always check the identification card of anyone claiming to be an employee while looking at their clothing as all water company staff and contractors wear a distinctive uniform and are happy to wait while any checks are carried out.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said, “Always ask to see the identification card of the person at your door claiming to be from any utilities company. If they are genuine, they will be happy to show you this and to wait, if necessary, if you want to check with their employer.

“Please call Sussex Police on 101 to report any suspicious activity. If in any doubt at all about the person at the door keep them from entering your home and call 999.”

Geoff Loader, from Southern Water, added, “The safety of our customers is a priority. If you are in any doubt when someone calls at your home you should ask for their identification card.

“We would ask customers to be particularly vigilant in areas in which we’re installing water meters.

“Staff working on the Southern Water metering programme are easily identifiable. They wear uniforms, and drive vehicles, carrying the Southern Water name and logo.”

Barbara Leech, Policy Manager at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “I urge people to take the time now to read about the checks that should be made before opening the door to an unexpected caller. Distraction burglary often isn’t reported as people feel silly and suffer in silence, believing that they could perhaps have prevented it. Don’t let it happen to you.”

If in doubt about a caller, phone South East Water on 0800 519 2222, Southern Water on 0845 278 0845 or the Police.