Flyers and advertisements saying that water is unsafe to drink have been showing up on homeowners doors in multiple areas around the United States. While they might be concerning initially, they could be a scam.
In Southwest Florida, homeowners are seeing notices with warnings that their water might be hazardous to their health and telling them to get drinking water tested. They may look official, but they should not be taken to heart.
“These mailings are typically ploys,” says Andy Koebel, director of operations for Bonita Springs Utilities. “Unscrupulous firms try to sell overpriced or useless water-treatment devices by offering to test tap water at no cost. Free offers to test your water are usually part of a sales promotion.”
There are a number of different sales and marketing tactics that companies will use, but the false warnings are one of the most devious.
In Massachusetts, two companies had to reach a settlement after they were accused of violating consumer protection laws with the same kind of scam. They used both mailed advertisements and door-to-door flyers saying that water supplied to homes was not safe or fit to drink.
“We allege this advertising misled residents about the quality of their drinking water that our environmental and public health agencies in the Commonwealth work so hard to protect,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “Our office is pleased that these settlements will ensure that these companies follow our consumer laws and stop their deceptive sales tactics.”
“State and local drinking water engineers, scientists and officials work hard to ensure that drinking water in Massachusetts is pure and safe to drink,” Commissioner David W. Cash of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection added. “Safe drinking water is provided to more than 6.3 million consumers every day and these types of deceptive practices erode confidence in the excellent quality of public drinking water available across the Commonwealth.”
Before succumbing to scare tactics like the scams in Florida and Massachusetts, homeowners should take some time to do a bit of research and get familiar with water quality systems in their region, says Koebel. Though functional water filtration systems certainly have their place, consumers don’t need to waste money on them.