ERIE.GOV | Your information resource from the government of Erie County, New York


County Executive Elected Officials County Departments Living In Erie County Visiting Erie County Growing your business in Erie County State and regional municipalities

February 2014 Column - Warning to residents about imitation utility workers


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

Legislator Ted Morton today announced that the Legislature has declared April 2017 as Donate Life Month in Erie County.

I wanted to report this month regarding the ongoing contract dispute between the County and AFSCME Local 1095, which represents many of the blue collar workers throughout our county. These workers often work pay check to pay check and in some cases hold second jobs to make ends meet.


We’ve all experienced it. Driving down Transit Road in the heart of our community when all of a sudden the road tightens and your regular commute turns into a roller coaster as you head down and underneath the main railroad lines before climbing back out. Meanwhile, you’re hoping not to get sideswiped by a larger vehicle navigating the narrow stretch between French Road and Gould Avenue. Maybe you’ve seen one of our first responders racing to get to a call and due to the challenges of this stretch they accidently lose a side mirror on one of the bridges, an accident which has occurred all too often.


With the New York State SAFE Act punishing legal gun owners through burdensome regulations, Legislator Ted Morton (R-Cheektowaga) today voted in favor of a measure to support New York State Senator Rob Ortt’s (R-North Tonawanda) legislation to repeal the SAFE Act in areas outside of New York City.


Members of the Erie County Legislature have requested that the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority (ECFSA) Board appear at the next Finance and Management Committee meeting to discuss the new plan that would allow the ECFSA to borrow on behalf of the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) new emergency room. To account for the borrowing the County Executive has submitted a Declaration of Need, which requires Legislative approval.


A few weeks ago I was watching the news and saw an unsettling report about three men who posed as Erie County Water Authority workers to gain access into a woman’s home. While one man distracted the homeowner the other ransacked her home. They took her personal belongings and invaded her security. They then attempted the same scheme at different homes in several towns.

This scam has been going on for years, and it's not just the Water Authority that is used as a cover. Heating and electric companies also have had their name used by these criminals to enter homes under false pretenses. To help residents protect themselves, I am reminding residents what they need to be aware of. The ECWA has developed a webpage dedicated to clearly demonstrating what a worker will be wearing, driving and what identification they will be carry. As a tagline, the ECWA reminds residents, “Insist on Identification.”

I am sharing this information with resident on my website and Facebook page, as well as distributing an informational poster, so residents are familiar with ECWA logos and IDs. Most importantly, I also included the phone numbers residents can call to confirm that a worker was sent to their home. Should you have any questions or concerns, immediately call ECWA Customer Service at 849-8484 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or ECWA's Emergency Dispatch at 685-8235 after 5 p.m. and on weekends to confirm if an ECWA employee should be at your premises.

This is a critical piece of the effort to stop this scam as the ECWA dispatch center can quickly tell a resident if a worker should or shouldn’t be at their home.

Many thieves prey on elderly residents, as was the case recently, creating concern about their home utilities, convincing them there is a serious reason they need to be there. To help educate our older population, I have partnered with the senior centers in my district to meet with residents and handout the helpful informational sheet. They can take this poster home and reference it quickly to be prepared if someone knocks on their door.  

Please download the poster by CLICKING HERE, and share with neighbors, family members or friends. If you are a member of a community organization, please consider distributing the poster to your members. Simply alerting residents to the existence of this scam could help them feel confident to ask a worker to wait while they confirm their authenticity. 

The most important piece of information on the poster is a reminder that if residents are ever unsure or uneasy, they should close their door and contact authorities. It is better to be safe.

I believe our local utility companies do a good job educating the public about their company policies concerning home visitations. I am happy to work with them to deliver this message so we can stop scams like the one that happened to that unfortunate resident. It is terrifying to think a criminal was in one of our neighbor's homes, in the middle of the day.

I want to encourage anyone who has a question or concern to please contact me at 858-8856 or by emailing ted.morton@erie.gov