Residents of Cape Town are being warned of an apparent scam that involves an individual posing as a City electricity official who asks for details about the customer’s prepaid electricity meter in an attempt to gain access to their home.

“An apparent criminal visited at least one resident, that the City is aware of, at their home and asked for the prepaid electricity meter number in an attempt to gain access to the house. They claimed to need that information so a discount on electricity costs for pensioners could be provided,” said Phindile Maxiti, City Mayco Member for Energy and Climate Change. “Fortunately in this instance, the resident, who lives in the Oak Glen, Bellville area, did not allow the individual access to their home.”

Earlier this year, the City became aware of similar apparent scams in the Helderberg and Parow areas. These scammers tend to target elderly residents. Once the City alerts the public, they move to another area.

“The scammers tend to work in pairs and encourage a resident to open the front door so that electricity infrastructure, including the meter, can be checked. While one scammer talks to the resident, the other steals small, personal items including purses and cellphones,” Maxiti added. “According to Section 12  of the Electricity Supply By-law of 2010, City employees and contractors have the right to reasonable admittance to a property, however the City does not have members of staff going door-to-door to check on infrastructure without an appointment.”

The City checks on electricity meters every so often, but must make an appointment with the resident. Revenue Protection staff may visit residents without an appointment in cases of suspected meter tempering, but will have a letter with them confirming the purpose of the visit.

It should be noted at no stage would a City official come to your door asking for a meter number to offer you a discount. If a customer comes across an offer like this, it could very well be that the intention is to tamper with the meter.

“All municipal workers and contractors must carry a work-order number specific to that dwelling and a City-issued identification card. Residents should ask to check the official identification card before allowing anyone onto their property,” Maxiti said. “The identification card must display the City logo, the name and surname of the staff member or mandated contractor, and must contain an embedded photo of the staff member or mandated contractor. Residents are not to allow anyone onto their premises until they have verified these details. Our residents should always be vigilant in these cases.”

Any suspicious behaviour must be reported to the City’s law enforcement agencies or to the police. Members of the public can verify whether visitors to their home are in fact employed by the City by:

– phoning the Call Centre on 0860 103 089 to confirm whether work is being carried out in their area

– informing the official that they will allow them entry only once the Call Centre has verified their identity

 Residents are reminded that in adherence to national regulations, the reading of residential electricity credit meters will only be done at lower COVID-19 levels. Customers will continue to be billed on estimates. However, you are encouraged to register for e-Services and manually submit your own reading.

 The City’s e-Services platform allows you to:

– submit water/electricity readings

– pay accounts online

– view your current account and account history

– apply to receive your account via email

– log service requests

 To register for e-Services visit: online e-services portal

You can also read your own meter on a regular basis and send a photo of the meter reading by email to [email protected] or phone 021 444 6286/8432/8478/1554 or 0860 103 089 to give your meter reading. 

Picture: Electricity Meter Box/Facebook

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.