Pittsburgh utilities unite with city to fight utility imposters
Pennsylvania American Water, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc. have joined Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor and other councilmembers, and the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania to alert Pittsburgh residents about the growing trend of criminals posing as utility workers to gain access to homes.
Pennsylvania American Water, PWSA and Columbia Gas joined Councilman Corey O’Connor at a news conference to announce the introduction of a Will of Council resolution declaring the week of June 22-26, 2015, as “Utility Imposter Awareness Week” in the City of Pittsburgh.
“Unfortunately, just last week, the City of Pittsburgh had an incident of imposters posing as legitimate utility workers to enter a home and rob the homeowners,” said Councilman O’Connor. “This Will of Council calls attention to this criminal activity. I support the customer education efforts of Pennsylvania American Water, PWSA and Columbia Gas to help prevent other customers from becoming a victim of utility imposter scam artists.”
Across western Pennsylvania, thieves have gained access to residents’ homes by posing as utility workers. Once inside the home, the imposters typically divert the resident’s attention by sending him/her to another floor while they or an accomplice robs the home.
Pennsylvania American Water, PWSA and Columbia Gas are members of the recently formed Keystone Alliance to Stop Utility Imposters, a coalition of local water, gas and electric utilities, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association to launch a public awareness campaign about criminals impersonating utility workers to gain access and rob homeowners.
The Keystone Alliance to Stop Utility Imposters formed to educate consumers about protecting themselves via a new public awareness campaign with print, broadcast and online media advertisements.
At the news conference, the utilities unveiled their media campaign aimed at informing consumers about the illicit practices of utility imposters. For example, the coalition’s ads inform customers that impersonators are not easy to spot. Homeowners are advised that before letting any worker into their house to always check for a company-issued photo identification.
“Unless there is an emergency, utility employees rarely show up at a customer’s home without an appointment,” said Wynn Morgan, Pennsylvania American Water Western Pennsylvania director of field operations. “Should someone come to your door claiming to be from local utility and you are not expecting them, do not let them inside without seeing proper official company identification with their photo and company logo on it.”
“Customer safety is the priority for Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania,” said Government Relations Manager Scott Waitlevertch. “This partnership with our elected officials in the City of Pittsburgh is vital to our efforts to protect and educate homeowners from criminals posing as utility workers. If customers have any suspicions about the identity of an individual at their door, they should call 9-1-1 immediately.”