Thursday, October 22, 2009

Police warn of scammer claiming to be from Water Department

Kansas City Police are warning residents to be wary of a scam in which suspects claiming to be with the Kansas City, Mo., Water Services Department call victims and ask for account numbers.

The South Patrol Division alone has had five cases in the past week, and the Fraud Section is investigating about a dozen.

The scam involves someone calling residents, claiming to work for the Kansas City Missouri Water Department. The scammer says the residents either didn’t sign their checks or didn’t pay their bill at all and will be charged a fee of $40 unless payment is made over the phone. The scammer then asks for a credit or debit card number to satisfy the amount due. Some victims reported that the caller was female.

While some people have fallen victim to the scheme, detectives said others have not. Some have checked their check duplicates to ensure they signed, others said they didn’t pay by check at all and one couple checked with their bank to see that the check had cleared and hung up on the caller. Unfortunately, others have lost as much as $900.

The Kansas City Water Services Department offers the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

- If the City contacts you, the caller ID will never be blocked.
- Customers can call 3-1-1 anytime to verify any solicitation regarding City water services.
- Waiving of fees or "special deals" are never offered.
- City employees always wear ID badges and will give you the name and number of their supervisor when asked.
- Customers should call 311 (or 911 if in an emergency situation) to report concerns.
- Customers should never give, to anyone who initiates contact with you, your credit card number, bank account number, date of birth, social security number or water account number.
- Customers should not send cash, check or money order by messenger or overnight mail, when asked to by a telephone seller or caller you do not know.
- Customers should never provide personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet, unless you initiated the transaction and you know the person or institution receiving the information.

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