Recently, thieves posing as utility workers have robbed a number of unsuspecting homeowners, and Progress Energy, an electric utility for the Raleigh, N.C., area, encouraged its customers and other residents to beware of scams.

In late summer, people claiming to work for Progress Energy, or in some cases for an unidentified power company, asked to enter homes by telling the homeowner they were there to conduct an energy-efficiency inspection or perform other utility-related work. Most incidents have involved elderly homeowners in rural areas. Once inside, the purported utility worker occupied the attention of the homeowner while another person slipped into the house and stole valuables. In other cases, the purported utility workers have asked the homeowner to step outside the home to look at a meter or pole, and while away, another person slips into the home undetected.

Progress Energy reminded customers and others not to open their door for utility workers unless they can confirm the person’s identity. Most utility employees carry company badges with photographs. But since ID badges, vehicle signs and clothing can be fabricated to look authentic, none of these are sufficient to ensure a person’s identity.

Other than in emergencies or safety-related issues, there are practically no instances when a utility worker would show up at a customer’s home unannounced and ask to enter to perform work. Remind customers that if anyone shows up unannounced, the customer should call their utility to confirm the worker’s identity.