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Scam or Legitimate? - Utility Visitor
Old 01-22-2014, 03:59 PM   #1
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Scam or Legitimate? - Utility Visitor

I had an unsolicited knock on my door today with someone claiming to be from the local natural gas utility. They claimed to be following up on a report of a possible "build over" near the gas meter. She saw no evidence of a 'build over', but had concerns about the near proximity of the gas meter to my furnace intake/exhaust.

She said that she will need to go back to the office to investigate the code/regs, but suggested that a relocation of the incoming gas line and gas meter may be necessary and that I would likely be responsible for relocating the internal gas pipes to match.

The furnace and the gas lines have not been changed in the 15 years that I have lived in the house, other than to have the gas meter replaced by the utility a year ago when gas was leaking.

She was driving what appeared to be a personal vehicle (ie no logos on vehicle, but political stickers on the license plate). I snapped a photo of the license plate for reference.

She said she will call me back once she has had a chance to research the code/regs back at the office.

I asked her if I would be receiving any written notification to this effect from the utility company and she said yes.

I tried to snap a photo of her ID, but I can't find it on my camera now.

At this point, I am having a hard time in deciding if this is legitimate or part of some type of scam.

Has anyone ever heard of such a thing either Scam or Legitimate and how would you authenticate such a person?

I plan to call the utility company, but have not composed exactly yet what to say in order to vet this person.

Any comments?

Thanks
-gauss
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:06 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gauss View Post
I had an unsolicited knock on my door today with someone claiming to be from the local natural gas utility. They claimed to be following up on a report of a possible "build over" near the gas meter. She saw no evidence of a 'build over', but had concerns about the near proximity of the gas meter to my furnace intake/exhaust.

She said that she will need to go back to the office to investigate the code/regs, but suggested that a relocation of the incoming gas line and gas meter may be necessary and that I would likely be responsible for relocating the internal gas pipes to match.

The furnace and the gas lines have not been changed in the 15 years that I have lived in the house, other than to have the gas meter replaced by the utility a year ago when gas was leaking.

She was driving what appeared to be a personal vehicle (ie no logos on vehicle, but political stickers on the license plate). I snapped a photo of the license plate for reference.

She said she will call me back once she has had a chance to research the code/regs back at the office.

I asked her if I would be receiving any written notification to this effect from the utility company and she said yes.

I tried to snap a photo of her ID, but I can't find it on my camera now.

At this point, I am having a hard time in deciding if this is legitimate or part of some type of scam.

Has anyone ever heard of such a thing either Scam or Legitimate and how would you authenticate such a person?

I plan to call the utility company, but have not composed exactly yet what to say in order to vet this person.

Any comments?

Thanks
-gauss
We have had similar scams in our neighborhood, and someone came to the door just the other day. I would call your utility to ask, and you may also want to call the police. What usually happens around here is that they are casing your house to see who's home.

We have also had incidents where the person at the front door is distracting the homeowner so that someone else can come in through the back.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:06 PM   #3
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My GF works for a public utility. She is normally an office worker dealing with maps, etc. But occasionally she is called "into active duty" dealing with warning people living in houses about downed electrical lines in area , or other issues. She has to use her own personal car and does not wear "official utility work clothes". So it is possible it is legit. BTW she is royally scared to death when she has to go into the undesirable areas to knock on doors.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:08 PM   #4
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My GF works for a public utility. She is normally an office worker dealing with maps, etc. But occasionally she is called "into active duty" dealing with warning people living in houses about downed electrical lines in area , or other issues. She has to use her own personal car and does not wear "official utility work clothes". So it is possible it is legit. BTW she is royally scared to death when she has to go into the undesirable areas to knock on doors.
Additional- I also agree the company would or should know additional info for you to clarify if it is legitimate.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Accidental Retiree View Post
What usually happens around here is that they are casing your house to see who's home.
+1

For just that reason, in our town it is illegal to go door to door soliciting without a permit and without prominantly displaying that permit on yourself. Our police beg us to immediately call them if we have an univited guest who doesn't begin his/her conversation by pointing to the picture ID, provided by the town, that they are wearing. I always call when someone rings my doorbell without proper ID, always.

Last summer DW answered the door to find a young man selling magazine subscriptions who began giving her a sales pitch. She asked to see his ID. When I heard him say "what's that?" I went to the phone immediately. DW listened to his pitch for a few moments before saying no thanks and the police were waiting for him at the end of our driveway by the time he got there.

No clue as to his fate. I did see he got a free ride in the back seat of the patrol car.

To OP: gauss, call the gas company yourself. Don't wait for followup contact from them. If this is a scam, they'll want to know and to work with your local PD to possibly save someone else from being the victim of fraud or crime. And even if this was legitimate, the gas co. should have had this person visiting your home only by appointment. Let them know that.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:44 PM   #6
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+2

Doesn't pass the sniff test. I would expect a utility to mail an advisory before any house call, the utility worker to use a company vehicle, begin the conversation with a reference to the advisory, and have a verifiable ID. They have no reason to enter the house. I'd call the utility company, and if they can't confirm the visit, call the police.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:54 PM   #7
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In our town, crooks/bad people dressed as utility workers have been known (recently) to go to a house and pretend to be from the utility company and gain access then (pick one) rape, murder, rob, brutalize the homeowner.

Your place sounds like it was cased for future "activity".
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:57 PM   #8
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I actually have a neighbor how did "build over" with deck too close to gas meter, they made him pay to relocate. I believe it was uniformed company vehicles personnel. In any case, I find it strange that a utility investigator would have to go back to office to research codes about meter proximity to exhausts; they ought to know that. I'd suspect scam.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:00 PM   #9
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Call the gas company. It definitely smells funny. A real utility worker will have no problem with you calling to check up on them. Often the scam is to somehow get money from you or get you out of the house while they do their 'work'.

If it does not check out, give the license number to the police.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:17 PM   #10
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To OP: gauss, call the gas company yourself.
+1

As Mulligan wrote it is possible that it's legit but I wouldn't bet on it. Call the gas company.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:08 PM   #11
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Check with the gas company. It is possible that it's legitimate, but it could also be otherwise.

The utilities here sometimes use third party contractors to do things, and sometimes they drive personally owned vehicles. A few days after our FiOS install, Verizon sent a QC inspector in regular clothes driving a personal truck. He did show me an ID badge, though -- said he was retired and did this part time just to get out of the house.

The guy that reads the gas meters looks like he's about 19, and just walks around the neighborhood in his t-shirt and jeans taking pictures of everybody's gas meter.
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:09 PM   #12
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I'm thinking scam with this scenario. The person should have had a gas company ID with them. This issue is not an emergency so it is strange that it was not someone in a company vehicle and perhaps company uniform. Definitely call the gas company and ask as they should have a record if your address or meter was to have been inspected on the particular day. If no go with gas company then report to police with license number you photographed.
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:33 PM   #13
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Call the utility, validate what credentials they expect their representative to show you. They do have an interest in your safety when dealing with their representatives.

I've seen a couple of scam warnings on this possible trick.

It probably helps our situation, we tend to answer the door with a 1911 in hand, or maybe thats all in my imagination.

MRG
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:55 PM   #14
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The "inspector" could be preparing you for a report that tells you you need to spend beaucoup bucks in repairs and that you also need to send a check first made out to a special account.

I second the idea of calling the gas company and the police if the gas co tells you it is not a legit activity.
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:10 PM   #15
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Inspector was legitimate as it turns out. Called the utility company and they could see a record of the visit.

Go figure....Pretty unprofessional operation if you ask me.

-gauss
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:18 PM   #16
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Whew! Bet that's a relief to know. Thanks for the update.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:17 PM   #17
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Inspector was legitimate as it turns out. Called the utility company and they could see a record of the visit.
Good to know. At least you know you weren't being set up.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:44 PM   #18
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Inspector was legitimate as it turns out. Called the utility company and they could see a record of the visit. Go figure....Pretty unprofessional operation if you ask me. -gauss
Glad it was legit and it doesn't surprise me based on what my GF says at her utility. Sometimes you assume there are uniforms and official vehicles, but that isn't they way they roll sometimes; cheaper to pay mileage. I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't have a badge of some type, but just didn't think to show it.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:50 PM   #19
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I had a similar situation last week. I heard a car horn in the driveway. I went outside and it was a young guy in an unmarked car. He told me that he was here to read the elect meter, and that he honks the horn first to see if there are any dogs. He did have on an elect co vest and tag, but he walked around the wrong side of the house to get to the meter. Seemed strange. I'm going to check with the elect co to see if he was legit
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:25 PM   #20
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She probably moonlights selling annuities or as a financial advisor.
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