Is it a delivery, someone looking for a lost pet or maybe a neighbor knocking on the door to ask for help? While these disturbances are often innocent and uneventful, these days, there are greater chances of fraudulent individuals waiting at your doorstep to take advantage of you or commit harm. We all need to be aware of potential risks when answering our doors – especially during the holidays when deliveries are more common. A heightened level of awareness, cautious action plan and quick response time will enable you to protect yourself, your family and your community against perpetrators. Here’s what you should know.
Individuals with ill-intentions have many approaches to try and gain access to you and/or your home. They may say they are replacing faulty equipment, checking for leaks, collecting payment for an overdue bill or — given the nationwide focus on lead – offering to test your water or indoor piping. As a homeowner, these things promote a sense of urgency. The fact that someone is ready to immediately help you can be reassuring, but always remember if it’s too good to be true, it oftentimes is.
Are you expecting a package or do you have a scheduled appointment? If not, when that knock is heard or the doorbell sounds, you should immediately take caution. Door-to-door scammers often try to disguise themselves as delivery drivers or utility employees. To avoid this potential hazard, here at Middlesex Water Company, we take several measures to curtail this confusion. While conducting work, our field personnel are uniformed and carry company photo identification. In instances of planned maintenance, we post signs within the service area and/or use social media outlets to provide communications. At times, we use reverse call messages as notification. Our staff arrives on location in vehicles that have our recognizable company logo. Lastly, service that requires your assistance will always be scheduled with you in advance. Never open the door if you are uncertain of the situation. Think about these clues to help determine if the individual at your door is an imposter.
Are you absolutely confident the individual is who they say there are? You peek out the window and the individual is uniformed but his/her arrival is unexpected. Proceed with caution in this instance because the uniform might be a knock-off or even stolen. Remember that items such as hard hats and fluorescent safety vests can be easily purchased at retailers. Scammers may even go so far as falsifying badges or having magnetic signs placed on their vehicles that mimic familiar logos. Middlesex Water employees primarily visit your home as a result of a service request to resolve an issue that you are familiar with. These calls are usually scheduled with you in advance to ensure you are home, especially if access to your in-home water meter is required. Occasionally, a situation may arise that requires an impromptu visit. After confirming credentials and the purpose of the visit, ask questions. Do the answers make sense? If you are still unsure, we welcome you to call our customer service number at 800-549-3802 for verification. You have the right to ask questions until you are comfortable with the situation.
Is there an imposter at your door? If you believe there is an immediate threat lurking, call 911. If you are safe, try to write down identifying characteristics of the individual, what kind of vehicle that traveled in and what they stated as the purpose of the visit. This will be useful when reporting the incident to the police and notifying the appropriate utility that someone is impersonating an employee. Quick reporting of the incident may help authorities capture the imposter and prevent further harm to others.
Impersonating a utility worker is just one of the many door-to-door scams taking place. Other scams, to name a few, include paying an overdue bill with gift cards, fake charities, suspect surveys and sales schemes. Now that you have some knowledge to protect yourself from door-to door scammers, we hope that you will never be placed in this situation. If so, remember to authenticate identification, make thorough observations, gather the clues, ask questions and when in doubt – don’t open the door.