United Utilities issues warning about bogus water officials
With Christmas around the corner and bad weather events becoming more frequent, United Utilities is warning its customers across the North West to be on their guard against bogus callers.
During the winter months there is often an increase in scammers posing as employees from the “water board” or United Utilities to get into properties and steal valuables.
Just last week, an elderly resident in East Lancashire was targeted by two burglars who claimed to work for United Utilities. They said they needed to check the water supply in the house and once inside they stole jewellery and £1,000 in savings. There have also been reports from Police in the Wirral about people pretending to be United Utilities employees.
United Utilities is advising customers to make sure they check callers are who they say they are before they let anyone into their homes. Callers from United Utilities will carry an identification card. If customers are unsure the caller is from United Utilities, they should take the caller’s ID card, close the door and call 0345 672 3723 to check their identity. Their engineers expect customers to do this to help keep them safe.
As bogus callers often target the elderly or vulnerable, the North West’s water company is also reminding people about its Priority Services register.
Priority Services is completely free and aims to provide additional support for those who might be elderly, be in ill health, have a disability or mental health problems and those customers who may have financial worries or language barriers. Friends and family can help set it up on behalf of a customer. By signing up, it ensures the company can respond quickly to any particular needs of that customer.
Customers can also setup a secure password with United Utilities. If any authorised United Utilities employee is calling at the property they would then quote this password to the customer.
Louise Beardmore, Customer Service Director for United Utilities, said: “Unfortunately we are seeing reports of people pretending to work for us to gain access to properties. These people have absolutely no conscience as they look to target the most vulnerable members of our communities.
“In most cases, when we need to enter a property our teams will have spoken to the customer prior to their arrival. We’d encourage all customers to check the identity of callers claiming to be from United Utilities by checking they know your password or by ringing 0345 672 3723. If you are not sure, then you should not let anyone in to your home. I want to assure customers that our employees won’t be offended and they’re happy to wait whilst identification is checked.
“As we’re in the middle of winter and seeing worse weather, I’d also encourage customers to check if they can sign up to Priority Services. We want to provide help for those who may need extra support due to their circumstances. Now more than ever, it’s so important we are looking out for each other.”
160,000 customers across the region are now benefitting from additional services. If you would like to register for Priority Services, or if you have a family member, friend or neighbour who might benefit, more information can be found on the company’s website, which includes a secure online form to register. Alternatively, call their Priority Services team direct on 0345 072 6093.