13:30 Monday 02 December 2013

Severn Trent badge theft is prompting fraud fears

Written byRICHARD CASTLE

WATER and sewage bosses are warning people in and around Uttoxeter to watch out for bogus callers after a recent spate of identity badge thefts.

Crooks have swiped several identity badges from Severn Trent Water in the last few months and company chiefs fear this will lead to vulnerable people being exploited.

Severn Trent, which runs sewage services in Uttoxeter and water services in some villages north of the town, has set up a ‘doorstep password’ scheme to help protect its elderly or disabled customers.

It has also published five ‘simple steps’ to help clients guard against bogus callers.

Simon Mullan, customer relations manager at Severn Trent, said: “An increasing number of our workers are reporting stolen security badges.

“Bogus callers are cunning and may be using a Severn Trent Water identity card, or a fake card, to enter homes under false pretences.

“These criminals are often intimidating, and deliberately target the elderly or vulnerable.

“We want to protect our customers and arm them with five simple steps and a doorstep password to help them stay safe this Christmas.

“If someone knocks on your door claiming to be from Severn Trent, ‘the water company’ or ‘the water board’ ask them to wait outside and ring 0845 604 1655 to check their identity.

“The phone number is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Our employees fully expect to be asked to show you an identity card and will wait outside while you carry out the necessary checks. Severn Trent Water employees will never pressure you to open the door.

“Remember, though, ID cards can also be faked, so it’s best to check the caller’s identity by ringing us.

“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.”

Five protective steps issued by Severn Trent include customers checking whether they know the caller from the window, keeping their door on the chain before identifying the caller, asking for the caller’s proof of identity through the letterbox, having the caller wait outside while they call Severn Trent or calling 999 if the caller demands immediate access.

Doorstep passwords can be acquired by calling 08467 500500.

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