WARWICKSHIRE Police is working with Severn Trent to remind customers in Rugby of the many safeguards available to help householders protect themselves against bogus callers.
Bogus callers, or distraction burglars, often claim to be from a utility company to gain access to a home and steal from it. These criminals are cunning and often intimidating, and deliberately target the elderly or vulnerable.
Severn Trent customers who may be concerned about the possibility of bogus callers are being encouraged to contact the company to set up a password. Customers who decide to set up a password can feel safer in the knowledge that if a Severn Trent employee genuinely does need access to their home, he or she will know the chosen word.
Martin Kane, director of customer relations at Severn Trent said: “Even if you haven’t signed up for a password, there are ways you can protect yourself against these criminals.
“If someone knocks on your door claiming to be from Severn Trent, ‘the water company’ or ‘the water board’ ask him or her to wait outside and ring 0845 604 1655 to check their identity. The phone number is staffed 24 hours a day, 7days a week.
“Our employees fully expect to be asked to show you an identity card and wait outside while you carry out the necessary checks. Severn Trent employees will never pressure you to open the door.
“Remember ID cards can be faked, so it’s best to check the caller’s identity by ringing a number you’ve found from another source – don’t automatically assume the phone number on the card is valid.
“To stay one step ahead, it’s best to keep our number to hand should someone show up at your door unexpectedly. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s always better to be prepared.
“We’re also encouraging customers to remind friends, family members and neighbours about how they can protect themselves. To ensure the message gets across, we need to work together.”
The Consumer Council for Water has set up a printable form which lists contact numbers for water as well as energy companies. If you know someone who may feel safer by having these numbers to hand, visit www.ccwater.org.uk to print one out for him or her.
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Anyone can go to our website; choose their utility suppliers, and print off a list of contact phone numbers along with our list of top tips to keep near the telephone.”
Community Protection Officer, Mark English, said: “Distraction burglaries are still occurring in the county however the amount has reduced dramatically.
“If you get a caller who you do not know I would recommend the following precautions. If possible look through a window to identify the caller, remember to use your door chain before opening the door, always check their identity, if you are unsure call the company, a genuine caller will always wait and if the visitor insists they need access immediately, shut the door and call 999.”