CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia American Water has issued a warning for customers to guard themselves against utility impostors and scams during the current public health emergency.
During this time, West Virginia American Water said it has suspended all water service shutoffs. Anyone receiving a phone call requesting payment with the threat of a water service shutoff should hang up and call West Virginia American Water at 800-685-8660 to verify the account status.
West Virginia American Water said its employees should not need access to any indoor facilities to read meters, turn service on or off or perform maintenance work. Company employees also will never request nor accept cash during service calls to homes or businesses.
Pretending to be a trusted utility worker is a trick some criminals use to gain access to homes, obtain payments or steal personal information, according to a press release. Utilities often see spikes in these types of impersonations and scams when customers are most vulnerable. West Virginia American Water recommends taking the following precautions when approached or contacted by someone claiming to be a utility worker:
- Always ask for a company-issued photo ID: West Virginia American Water employees carry company-issued photo ID badges and should not need access to indoor facilities to read meters, turn service on or off or perform maintenance work.
- Look for the logo: All West Virginia American Water service personnel wear uniforms and drive company-branded vehicles with the logo.
- Never give cash: West Virginia American Water employees never collect money or credit card information from customers in the field.
- Anyone who suspects someone may be a utility impostor should close and lock the doors and call 911. Call West Virginia American Water at 800-685-8660 to report the incident and confirm whether service work is scheduled in the area.
- Anyone suspecting that a phone call is from someone attempting a payment scam should hang up. Call West Virginia American Water at 800-685-8660 to verify the account status.
“We want our customers to feel secure about their water and wastewater utilities during this challenging time,” said West Virginia American President Robert Burton. “West Virginia American Water employees care about our customers’ safety, and we don’t mind when customers ask our employees to verify who they say they are; however, we do ask that customers maintain a safe, social distance while doing so. Additionally, we strongly encourage our customers not to make any payments over the phone when contacted by someone threatening a water service shutoff at this time. We strongly encourage customers to contact us directly if they have questions about their account.”