BRITISH GAS is urging customers to check the identity of callers before letting them into their home.
Most callers are probably genuine, but some are not! They may be thieves or tricksters. That is why it is vital to take care when answering the door.
With the gas and electricity markets now open to competition, there are many more suppliers operating and dealing with meter reading.
However, all of them will have identity cards and genuine representatives of companies will be happy for householders to check up on their identities.
All British Gas representatives, and contractors working on behalf of British Gas, carry an identity card with a photo, which customers should always ask to see.
Many of our employees call by appointment only, so if we were calling to service a customer's boiler, the customer would be expecting us.
Customers could also ring the number at the top of their British Gas bill and the Customer Service Adviser will be able to confirm whether the caller is genuine.
British Gas also operates a password scheme, which offers all customers extra security by allowing them to agree a personal code word, known only to the company and the customer.
This can be quoted before customers open their door. If your caller is able to provide this password for you then the caller is genuine. For more information about the British Gas password scheme, customers should call the telephone number at the top of their bill.
Joanne Whittaker, of British Gas said: "British Gas takes the safety and security of its customers very seriously and our recommendation is that if you have any doubt whatsoever about the identity of the person at your door, then you should refuse them entry and call the police."
Joanne added: "It is important to remember that this type of crime is still comparatively rare and by following our simple doorstep code you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of this type of crime."
British Gas says: "If in doubt, keep them out! By following a few simple guidelines, you can help protect yourself and your home.
Before you open the door to anyone, remember, Lock, Stop, Chain, Check:
* Lock: Firstly, make sure all outer doors are locked
* Stop: then stop and think - are you expecting anybody?
* Chain: Always put the door chain on and look out of the window or spy hole to see who is calling before opening the door
* Check: Then ensure that you check their identification - do not be afraid to phone the company or organisation the caller says they are from, to check their validity.