PENSIONERS in Knutsford are being urged to be on their guard for criminals who are posing as water board officials.
The call comes from United Utilities, which is warning people, in particular the elderly, to be on the lookout for bogus callers and opportunist burglars.
Conmen posing as water board officials struck at several homes across the north west in June last year, and householders had property and cash stolen before they realised what had happened and raised the alarm.
The water company wants to prevent similar thefts this summer.
“These are unscrupulous conmen, who are taking advantage of people’s trusting nature,” said a United Utilities spokesman.
“We very rarely call without an appointment, and would urge people to always ask for an identity card before letting anyone into their home.
“Our message is very simple – check the callers are who they say they are, and if in doubt keep them out.
“It doesn’t matter whether they are wearing a United Utilities uniform or if there is one of our vans in the street. Always ask for identification.
“Offenders call using distraction techniques, and say they are from the water board. They ask householders to turn off their water and then steal from their property.
“It’s a despicable crime against elderly people especially, and we are appealing to people to look out for elderly neighbours and to report any suspicious callers to the police.”
Customers can register with United Utilities’ Extracare scheme and set their own unique password, which only genuine water company employees will know.
To register call 0845 746 1100 or 0808 143 1195. You can also register online at unitedutilities.com/extracare.
“All our staff, contractors and partners carry an identity card bearing their name, photograph and a contact landline telephone number,” added the United Utilities spokesman.
“You can check they are for real by calling our customer inquiries number on 0845 746 2200, which you will also find at the top of your water bill.”
People with information about suspicious activity can call police on 101 or, if you would prefer to remain anonymous, the Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111.