Who’s That Knocking at Your Door
Incidents of criminals posing as utility workers or public safety officials rise nationwide during the summer months, and Baytown is no exception. The City has received several calls regarding people claiming to be from the City and requesting entry to homes to “test their water.”
City of Baytown’s Police Department and Utility Billing Office warning residents to be on guard against bogus workers and scam phone calls.
Scenario One: someone knocks at the door claiming to be a City utility worker. They say they need to come inside to inspect pipes, check water quality, or investigate a leak. They may be wearing a uniform, carrying a walkie-talkie or flashing an official looking ID badge. Once inside the home, they can easily steal valuables or case the house for a future visit.
City of Baytown utility workers will never ask to enter your home, ever. In fact, employees are prohibited from entering resident homes, even if invited. If a person approaches you claiming to be a city utility employee, who needs to enter your house, do not let them in, but immediately call 911 to report them. The sooner PD has the information, the sooner they can send someone out to check the neighborhood.
If the person claims to be from a non-city utility (electric, cable, gas), and doesn’t have an appointment, ask for ID and check with their service provider prior to admitting them.
Scenario Two: The phone rings and the voice on the other end says he’s Police Chief Dougherty and he’s soliciting funds for the Police Department. You want to help, but is he really who he says he is? Can you be sure where your hard-earned money is going? If you pegged this for a scam, you’re right! BPD will never call you to solicit donations. Like the first scenario, this is a scam.
What do you do? End the call immediately. If you don’t initiate the call or the email conversation, there is a good chance it is “phishing” (throw enough lines in the water and surely someone will bite).
The FBI estimates that more than 500,000 Americans are victims of identity theft or other financial scams each year. Fraudsters are constantly inventing ways to swindle you out of your cash, and frequently target the elderly, thought they can happen to anyone. Here are some common scams to look out for.
- Home maintenance services
- Fake utility representative
- IRS calls
- Jury duty/fake lawsuit
- Prize winner scam
- Cold-call investment scam
- Collections/missed payments
- Vacation help/stranded friend
- Computer Virus hoax
- Credit card fraud/courier scam
How can you protect yourself?
- Don’t click on unknown email links.
- Sound too good to be true? It probably is.
- Don’t sign or agree to anything that you don’t fully understand.
- Never give personal information to a door, phone or email
solicitor unless you have initiated the contact.
If you are the victim of, or want to report a scam, contact the Baytown Police Department at (281) 422-8371. For emergencies, call 911.
This information was distributed by the Baytown Chamber of Commerce.