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Old 10-21-2020, 09:30 PM
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So my mom called me earlier this evening to inform me of an encounter with a phony meter reader. The guy pulled into the driveway at about 6:12pm in a dirty white pickup truck with hand-made cardboard signs taped to the doors and knocked on the side door. My mother came to the door, but wisely didn't open it for him and asked him to state his business. The imposter claimed to be a meter reader despite the fact that he wasn't even wearing a uniform, let alone one bearing the name/logo of the Gas/Power company, and asked to come inside to read the meter. My mother informed him that the meter was located outside of the house so that he should read that. She then observed as he walked over to the meter, pretended to check it out, then promptly drove away without bothering to visit either of the neighbors.

My mother then proceeded to call the company and ask if they had sent a meter reader to the house, just on the off chance that he was some newly hired employee who hadn't been provided with a uniform or a truck, but unsurprisingly they informed her that they don't have anyone check meters after 5:00pm, so that alone was a red flag. They asked her for the truck's license plate number, but my mother hadn't caught it. She's going to follow up on the matter tomorrow morning.

I'm honestly surprised that criminals are still trying the old phony meter reader trick, especially without even trying to make it look legit. Fortunately, the fact that this guy is so obviously a phony should prevent anyone from falling for it, and he'll likely get apprehended pretty quickly if he keeps driving around in a truck with hand-made paper signs taped to the doors.
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Old 10-21-2020, 09:33 PM
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I shudder to think what may have happened if she let him him the house. I think she needs to call 911 immediately and get the police out there and looking for this man.
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Old 10-21-2020, 09:47 PM
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Scary! Sounds like she was targeted.
As I daily walk my neighborhood, I often see meter readers.
They have marked vehicles and remote Meter reader handheld units.
They usually don’t get near houses and never enter them!
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Old 10-21-2020, 10:03 PM
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I didn't even know there still was such a thing as a "meter reader". Probably 10-15 years ago everything out here was converted to satellite read meters. No worries about dog bites, unions, employees, etc.
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Old 10-21-2020, 10:04 PM
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I shudder to think what may have happened if she let him him the house. I think she needs to call 911 immediately and get the police out there and looking for this man.
Indeed, I was actually pretty upset and a little shook up by that very idea after she told me about it, but fortunately she knew better than to open the door to a guy who was so obviously not a legitimate meter reader.

In fact, I recall that as a kid she always told me not to answer the door for meter readers and to always just tell them through the door where the meter was outside the house, so even after all these years she's still doing exactly what she told me to do when I was a boy.

For the record, my mother does routinely carry a .357 Magnum Revolver or at least a .380 Pocket Pistol on her person, but today of all days she wasn't wearing pants with any pockets, and she had her Revolver sitting in the Living Room when she went to the door. I told her that from now on to always make sure that she has a gun on her person, especially if she's going to answer the door to a stranger. She has dogs, but frankly I'm not very confident in their abilities as guard dogs, and evidently their barking did nothing to deter him.

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I didn't even know there still was such a thing as a "meter reader". Probably 10-15 years ago everything out here was converted to satellite read meters. No worries about dog bites, unions, employees, etc.
I know, right? The last time I remember even seeing a meter reader was like 10+ years ago when he was installing some new meter on the house.
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Old 10-21-2020, 10:12 PM
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She sounds like an incredible lady who can take care of herself. I would suggest showing her this video from our forum brother Massad Ayoob.

Massad Ayoob "Don't Answer The Door!!!" - YouTube

I would not open the door for Billy Graham if he was knocking on the door uninvited. I have learned, although it’s extremely hard to do, not to open the door for anyone unless I know them. I never open the door for any stranger until they have stated their business on the intercom system and I am comfortable with what they want. That rarely happens.
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Old 10-21-2020, 11:12 PM
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That stuff happens all the time here in FL. They tend to target the elderly, of which we have a lot.
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Old 10-21-2020, 11:30 PM
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Our electric meter was updated several years ago, the gas meter hasn't been updated yet.

The creeps pulling this scam are beneath scum.
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Old 10-21-2020, 11:34 PM
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What is the typical end game of this scam for these criminals? Is it robbery? Murder? Rape? Kidnapping?

Frankly, I have never heard of posing a meter reader to gain access to a home.

As usual I learn something every time I visit this great place. And answered my own question.

11 things criminals do when they pretend to be utility workers | Utility Dive
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Old 10-22-2020, 08:27 AM
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Fortunately most criminals are not too smart.
I guy like that only succeeds when the victim is dumber than him.
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Old 10-22-2020, 09:12 AM
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Out here in flyover country, there's plenty of meters that still need to be physically read by a real person. Our electric and water meters just changed to the interweb within the last three months, even though the utility company is city owned and has had fiber optic capability for several years. No idea what the gas company is doing. When your city owns a power plant, electricity is pretty cheap . . .
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Old 10-22-2020, 09:16 AM
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I'm elderly myself ... but do remember the electric , gas and water meters being located outside the house .
If that fellow had said he wanted to read the WiFi Meter or the Google Meter I probably would have let them inside .
So ... make sure your parents know where the real meters are located and that computers and telephones don't have meters that need reading .

Glad your Mom didn't fall for the creep's ruse ... she's still got it !

Criminals amaze me on the brazen things they will try .
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Old 10-22-2020, 10:57 AM
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What the heck is a meter reader? We don't have gas to the house, we have our own well for water, and the electric company installed "smart meters" ages ago that are read by computer from their main offices so if anyone shows up I definitely know it's a scam.

Even before the smart meters were installed, the old meter readers would stay in their vehicle and aim a laser(??) or something similar from the street at the meter and it would read it from a distance so we never actually had one come to the door.

I see the folks wanting to talk about their religion knocking at the door more than any three others combined - and in our neighborhood that includes trick-or-treaters (none for the last 5+ years)! The kids mainly stick to the well-lit, closely spaced subdivisions. That doesn't prevent me from buying candy, however... Just saying
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:22 AM
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Back in the dark ages I had to read my own meter. The gas Co would mail out a card and you went out and filled in the spaces on the card and mailed in the card. The Company would come out every 6 months to read the meter to be sure you were up to date.
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
I'm elderly myself ... but do remember the electric , gas and water meters being located outside the house .
If that fellow had said he wanted to read the WiFi Meter or the Google Meter I probably would have let them inside .
So ... make sure your parents know where the real meters are located and that computers and telephones don't have meters that need reading .

Glad your Mom didn't fall for the creep's ruse ... she's still got it !

Criminals amaze me on the brazen things they will try .
Gary
That's some good advice, actually. Fortunately, my parents are passably knowledgeable when it comes to modern technology because I used to work as a Customer Service Representative for various Electronics/Appliances, so I became very adept at explaining modern technology to the technologically illiterate in ways that they could understand. The problem with a lot of folks who are tech savvy is that they often use unnecessary complex techno-jargon that the lay person simply cannot understand, and they're generally arrogant about it, so requests for clarification are often met with exaggerated sighs of mock-disbelief followed by condescending comments about how folks really ought to stay up-to-date on this stuff. It's the behavior of someone so completely lacking in self-esteem that the only thing they can do to feel good about themselves is to essentially ask like a child chanting; "I-know-something-you-don't-know!" to anyone they possibly can. I'm not like that, and actually am happy to share any knowledge or wisdom that I may possess.

Brazen indeed, but you really can't expect someone who is incapable of making money honestly to come up with clever plans or go to any great length to appear legitimate in their scams.
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Old 10-22-2020, 07:18 PM
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This could have gone real bad real fast. She might have been targeted, she might just was the elected victim of the day. I'm a strong advisor of having cameras (monitored or not) and that way you have some info for the police report. I hope she plans on calling them!! There might be a crime ring going on or moving through the state or even the country.

Be vigilant and don't answer the door w/o a gun in hand in those cases.
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Old 10-22-2020, 09:09 PM
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Rest assured that my mother is taking all necessary precautions and following through according to procedure in the aftermath of the event.

I am also doing my part to ensure that any possible encounters with potential predators will be dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as possible. I have already told my mother repeatedly that she should always have her firearm on her person when answering the door, and I plan to follow up at the next opportunity by suggesting various forms of electronic security from surveillance equipment to alarms.
I'm sure that anyone here with elderly parents of their own can appreciate that this is a delicate matter on many levels and that being too forward or forceful would be purely detrimental. Besides, I'm certain that she fully appreciates the severity of the situation along with the potential implications, and will react accordingly regardless of my actions. Keep in mind that the core fundamentals of what I myself know in regards to dealing with potential threats was taught to me by her in the first place.

Your concern is appreciated.
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Old 10-23-2020, 07:43 PM
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All our meters are remotely read (gas, water & electric). Haven’t seen a
meter reader in years.
Good post with many good replies !

Be SAFE and Shoot Often !
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:28 AM
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There was a joke in Readers Digest years ago about a woman who was downstairs doing laundry . She had just gotten out of the shower and was naked except she had put on her son's football helmet to take back upstairs when the meter reader came in through the unlocked backdoor . He said " Lady I hope your team wins " .
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:41 AM
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Times have sure changed. We live outside of town and our Labs used to look forward to seeing the PUD meter reader, he really had a way with dogs. The Labs are gone now and I haven’t seen the meter reader in several years...
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Old 10-24-2020, 05:11 AM
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Old 10-24-2020, 10:06 AM
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Just something for others to consider, if the layout of their house lends itself to what I do. My doorbell rang around 5:30 one morning last summer. Got up, put jeans on, put Shield .45 in the right rear pocket, with my right hand still on it. My door doesn't have a peep hole, so I opened the curtains of the large bow window in my living room, which is only six feet from the door. Two young guys I didn't recognize standing there, so I cranked open one of the casement windows to ask what they wanted. Turns out they were tracking / chasing some cows that had escaped from their property a few hundred yards from mine, and just wanted to let me know they were on my property.

Cranking open the window is as easy as opening the door, without giving miscreants the opportunity to bull rush their way through the door. (I also have a glass storm door that is always kept locked.) Can't see them having long term success trying to squeeze through a casement window cracked open. I can do all that with my left hand, keeping my right hand free and the Shield concealed but instantly ready.
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Old 10-24-2020, 10:56 AM
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Every few years we get a letter in the mail notification that our gas meter in the house has to be checked. We have to call and make an appointment. A Company Truck shows up for the appointment and a uniformed, including ID. , worker comes in and checks the meter . I’m always there and if they were a fake and tried something. It would not go well for them.
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Old 10-24-2020, 12:14 PM
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I still see legit ones around Chattanooga. We had some tornados back in the spring and shut off the gas following the storm. We called the gas company to come out to turn it back on for us. The old guy who came out shared a story about having a fake meter reader come to his house.
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Old 10-24-2020, 02:51 PM
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So my mom called me earlier this evening to inform me of an encounter with a phony meter reader. The guy pulled into the driveway at about 6:12pm in a dirty white pickup truck with hand-made cardboard signs taped to the doors and knocked on the side door. My mother came to the door, but wisely didn't open it for him and asked him to state his business. The imposter claimed to be a meter reader despite the fact that he wasn't even wearing a uniform, let alone one bearing the name/logo of the Gas/Power company, and asked to come inside to read the meter. My mother informed him that the meter was located outside of the house so that he should read that. She then observed as he walked over to the meter, pretended to check it out, then promptly drove away without bothering to visit either of the neighbors.

My mother then proceeded to call the company and ask if they had sent a meter reader to the house, just on the off chance that he was some newly hired employee who hadn't been provided with a uniform or a truck, but unsurprisingly they informed her that they don't have anyone check meters after 5:00pm, so that alone was a red flag. They asked her for the truck's license plate number, but my mother hadn't caught it. She's going to follow up on the matter tomorrow morning.

I'm honestly surprised that criminals are still trying the old phony meter reader trick, especially without even trying to make it look legit. Fortunately, the fact that this guy is so obviously a phony should prevent anyone from falling for it, and he'll likely get apprehended pretty quickly if he keeps driving around in a truck with hand-made paper signs taped to the doors.


Let me guess: the sign on his truck read: "Lokel gaz Kompannie"

Our meter readers use binoculars, and they never get out of their (marked) vehicles.



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Old 10-24-2020, 10:36 PM
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I had never heard of any kind of utility meter inside the house before. Here, meters; electric, water, and gas, are all mounted outside of the house. The meter reader parks his truck on the end of the street and walks the length from yard to yard reading the meter on or next to the house. Often the water meter is out near the street where the house line comes off of the street main. Wireless meters that can be read remotely are of course becoming more common.
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Old 10-25-2020, 07:52 AM
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Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years.  
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Originally Posted by Stevens View Post
I had never heard of any kind of utility meter inside the house before....
In Eastern Nebraska, all the water meters I’ve seen are in the basement. Keeps them from freezing. They have a glass block window so they can be read from the outside and AFAIK they’re all wifi now. The utility drives a car with an attenna down the street to read them.

Late 70’s I was working on some industrial contracts in North Central Iowa. Rented a 1920’s vintage house in a 5,000 person town with it’s own utility. The water meter was in the basement and didn’t have the glass window thing. Freaked my wife out the first time the legit city meter reader let himself in the back door, went into the basement and read the meter. She always locked the doors after that.
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  #28  
Old 10-27-2020, 07:34 AM
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Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years.  
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I work for a utility company that services quite a number of homes with electric and water meters inside. Most, if not all, have already had 'smart meters' installed. Yet there are times that people will call to report a full or partial electrical outage because they know nothing about circuit breakers. When we are called to those residences our job is to get a voltage reading inside the meter base to be sure they have full power. So if the meter base is inside the house then we go in...most of the time. There are actually some people who will call but not let us in because they're terrified of a stranger being inside of their house. The marked utility truck means nothing to them, but it's somewhat understandable in this day and age. Not complaining at all, it actually makes my job easier.. I'll get a voltage reading at the transformer, and let customer service deal with them.
It was a real nightmare when we had to replace all of the old electric meters with the new ones, and many of those homes were filthy dumps

Last edited by jughed440; 10-27-2020 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 10-27-2020, 08:20 AM
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Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years. Phony Meter Readers -- Still a thing after all these years.  
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We have smart meters but I also received a notice as did every customers that the electric company must still be able to get to the meter for periotic inspections. Of course most electric meters are on the outside of the home or business.
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