How to determine if that Comcast tech at your door is the real deal

by Chris Morran, Consumerist

comcastworkerEven in these cynical times, most of us want to trust our fellow humans and try to give them the benefit of a doubt. So when someone from the cable company knocks on your door when you’re not expecting it, your instinct might be to believe that he’s not lying. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

KKTV in Colorado Springs reports on a local couple who were at home when someone claiming to be a Comcast tech knocked on their door. “He said that he needed to check the wiring for a job that was recently done on the house, and I wasn’t sure what he was talking about,” the husband says about the man at his door.

His wife then suggested to her husband that he ask for the supposed Comcast contractor’s ID, so the husband walked around to the side of the house where the clipboard-carrying man was peering over a locked fence. “I said, by any chance do you have any ID? And he said no,” recalls the husband. “I asked him for his name and he said, ‘Well I’ll just come back some other time.’”

The couple then called Comcast, which said that it had no record of anyone being dispatched to that house. The couple says that the suspicious man was driving a van with the name of a company that Comcast does indeed do work for the cable company, but KKTV could not get an official response from that contractor.

We’ve written before about scammers and criminals pretending to be employees of various companies in order to illegally gain access to customers’ homes. In 2011, criminals in Maryland posed as workers for a local utility company to steal thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from multiple victims.

If someone shows up at your door claiming to be from Comcast — or any utility/cable/satellite/whatever company — and you’re not expecting them, here are the steps you should take to verify their identity.

1. Don’t be fooled by a shirt and a clipboard. Ask to see some sort of photo ID that shows this person works for the company they claim to work for. If you’re very suspicious, you may want to ask to see both the company photo ID and a state-issued ID to make sure the names match.

2. Ask to see a work order or some other documentation showing that this person needs to be there, and specifically that he/she needs access to your property.

3. Contact the company to verify this information. An ID and paperwork can be faked. It’s much more complicated to also make sure that someone at the company’s dispatch is in on the ruse. And make sure that you are the one who is calling the company to verify this information. The tech may offer to call a dispatcher from his phone, but you have no way of knowing if he’s dialing the company or just calling a pal.

4. If you are unable to verify all of this information, tell the tech he will have to come back at a time when the info can be confirmed. We’re not talking about putting out fires or dealing with a medical emergency here.

You may feel like it’s going overboard to require all of this proof to just let a cable tech onto your property, but think of how many times you have to answer the same stupid ID-verification questions every time you get bounced around Comcast’s customer service. If a company is going to demand proof that you are who you say you are, there’s no reason its employees shouldn’t be held to the same standard when they show up on your doorstep unannounced.