Apartment owners are increasingly faced with the imposition of services in the housing and communal services sector. Water meters are suddenly in need of replacement, and tenants are hit with massive energy bills. To attract customers, swindlers disguise themselves as government agencies or simply push with aggressive advertising. Victims of deception are not only pensioners, but also young people. How to check the master and what indicates a real malfunction of the counter – in the Izvestia material.
Masters with forgery
The imposition of services for the verification and replacement of meters is a common type of fraud. The main weapon of attackers is surprise, says Svetlana Razvorotneva, deputy chairman of the committee for construction and housing and communal services of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. If the victim does not have enough time to think, the success of the scammers is almost guaranteed. Typically, scammers call or write on behalf of official organizations or use terms in their names that suggest that they are a city or state organization (for example, “city water company”). Quite often they are presented as authorized by the Criminal Code.
– They say that the verification period has expired. The meter needs to be replaced immediately. As punishment – a significant increase in payments for utilities. Sometimes they talk about fines that are absent in the legislation, – said the interlocutor of Izvestia.
Often such a “verification” in ads is served under the sauce of a comprehensive check of water supply pipes in an apartment.. As a result of such “works”, gullible citizens are persuaded to install water filtration systems, added Sergei Pakhomov, chairman of the Committee for Construction and Housing and Utilities of the State Duma.
– In addition, there is often pressure that the installation or verification of appliances is carried out only in the next two days and especially for your home at a reduced price. In practice, the price is, of course, higher, he pointed out.
Photo: Izvestia/Alexey Maishev
The cost of work depends on the region, the expert notes. For one water meter, you can pay from 300 to 1 thousand rubles. The cost of checking the electricity meter depends on the phase and billing. The price range is from 600 to 2.5 thousand rubles.
According to Svetlana Razvorotneva, more often, scammers make money not by inflating prices, but by selling unnecessary services: checking the meter at a time when the deadline has not yet come, or replacing a working meter with a new one.
Leaflets and inspiring confidence
Often, residents themselves choose the “wrong” master. Usually, a company is searched for via the Internet, unscrupulous companies have learned to advertise in such a way that the user will certainly get to the site of scammers. Pavel Sklyanchuk, an expert on housing policy and housing and communal services, warned about this.
— Fraudsters choose names similar to government agencies, refer to various regulations. For example, now they began to write “verification according to GOST”, but this is nothing more than marketing. It is important to remember that official companies never call first and do not place ads in the entrance, the expert explained.
Traditional methods are also in use. Lawyer and chairman of the Moscow Housing Union Konstantin Krokhin interviewed several tenants who encountered fictitious craftsmen. They often throw advertisements with their services in mailboxes. When it comes time to do the verification, the owners can call the number listed in the leaflet. Moreover, according to residents, sometimes the services of swindlers are recommended by municipal institutions themselves that provide services in the housing and communal services sector., which is why Konstantin Krokhin suspects that the house manager and fraudsters may be “in tandem.” In addition, such authorities have information about the upcoming verification dates, so a particular owner can be overwhelmed not only with advertising, but also with calls.
Photo: Izvestiya/Zurab Javakhadze
Another method is used more often in comfort and business class houses, says the lawyer. Residents pay attention to the card that hangs on the counter or pipe. It contains the contact of the company, which allegedly carried out work on the counter before. The owner believes that since the company has already made a replacement, it means that it is legal. The tenant does not bother himself with unnecessary checks. One way or another, further the scheme is general.
“All the victims told the same story,” the expert says. – Young people come, nice, sociable, and offer to check one meter for 500-700 rubles. They enter the apartment together, one distracts, talks to the tenant, the second digs with the device. Then it is reported that the hot water meter is not working, they all inspect it together, knock – it is faulty. Then the scammers offer a replacement, which will cost 5 thousand rubles. Of course, the scammers say, you can not change the device and give money only for verification, but keep in mind that the act will say that your meter is faulty, and we will enter into the Arshin system that it cannot be measured. And 99% of customers agree to a replacement. And along with the counter, the attackers remove the seal.
Damage to the seal is another violation. In this case, the tenant’s expenses may increase not by 10, but by 100 times, because we are talking about unmetered consumption. The management company can additionally accrue from 50 thousand to 100 thousand rubles of water debt.
According to the lawyer, who himself participated in the call of the “masters”, the documents with which the workers come are issued to one office, the craftsmen are presented to the second, and the seal is from the third.
– Often these are visiting guys without registration. I threatened a couple of them with police and document checks. They began to cry: “We were told, you are walking, everything is safe, legal.” And they retreated. I’m not talking cash registers, no checks, just black cash. I have an idea that they can enclose the apartment. This is intelligence, in fact, – warned the interlocutor of Izvestia.
Photo: RIA Novosti / Evgeny Odinokov
Fewer problems with electrical appliances, says Konstantin Krokhin. He recalled that since 2020, citizens have been exempted from the need to replace, verify, purchase electricity meters, this obligation fell on guaranteeing suppliers, that is, on electricity sales companies. At the same time, so-called smart meters are being installed in the houses, for which residents were reluctant to spend money in the past.
Dealers almost never encroach on electricity meters – there are too many technical nuancesagrees and adds Sergei Pakhomov.
– “Checking” the water meter under the sink is much easier – the owner will not see all the manipulations of the miracle master. By the way, they often do not exist, – says the expert.
How to verify a company
As a rule, owners contact the managing organization to install or replace water meters in the apartment. From November 1, the operator of such works must have accreditation, you can check its availability on the website of the Federal Accreditation Service. You can choose your own contractor there. Sergei Pakhomov says
Yevgeny Korolev, an expert of the Sovet legal group, notes that after verification, the master usually draws up three documents: a contract for the provision of services, an act on the verification, and a receipt for payment. The main thing is that the company that carried out the verification must enter information about the verification into the electronic database of Rosstandart (FSIS “Arshin”).
It is not necessary to issue a paper certificate of the past verification. But it can be issued at the request of the owner. Svetlana Razvorotneva advises getting it in order to insure against failures in the system. Also, after the verification, it is necessary to report it to the management company, it is better to provide a paper certificate. This will become the basis for charging fees according to the metering device, and not according to the standard.
Photo: Izvestia/Alexander Kazakov
It is important to remember that the cold water meter is checked 6 years after installation, the hot water meter – after 4 years. If the verification is not done on time, the utility bill is charged according to the standard, which will be overstated. Usually this period is indicated on the body of the meter and without fail in the passport. In addition, you can find out the date of the actual verification through the management company. All information about verification of meters is also contained on the website of Rosstandart. By entering the serial number of your meter, the user will receive the date of the next verification.
In this case, it is necessary to distinguish between the verification period and the service life. On average, the service bill for water meters is 12 years, for electricity – 25–30 years. Verification takes place more often and is a guarantee of the operation of the device.
It is the consumer who is responsible for violation of the procedure for installing, operating and replacing the meter., reminds the head of the apparatus of the Saratov regional branch of the Association of Lawyers of Russia Natalia Greshnova. That is, even if the company committed violations when replacing the meter, the owner of the apartment will be responsible for this.
“If the tenant nevertheless became a victim of fraud, then his only way out is to contact the police with a statement, the evidence can be: a concluded contract, an act of work performed, photographs of meters before and after,” says Evgeny Korolev.
How to understand that the counter is broken
The main sign of a device malfunction is a noticeable change in monthly readings with the same resource consumption.said Svetlana Razvorotneva. If the meter “spins too fast”, and utility bills have risen sharply, or, conversely, the readings are significantly lower than in previous months, this is a reason to invite the master and conduct an inspection.
Photo: Izvestia/Alexander Kazakov
The device should be checked regularly. If you notice that there is water under the plastic case or if the counting mechanism does not move, the meter must be replaced as soon as possible, the size of the utility bill depends on its performance, Sergey Pakhomov warned.
– For example, if the IPU incorrectly calculates the water flow, then there is a possibility that water will begin to leak through it. Or the owner will calculate the fee, taking into account increasing coefficients. Therefore, timely verification is not just an event for show, the interlocutor explained.
The device must be replaced if the deviation is plus or minus 2-5% of the standard, said Pavel Sklyanchuk. He also clarified that if the metrologist rejected the meter, then the person has the right to call another specialist if he is suspected of his actions.