This article was first published in The New Paper.

The New Paper checked with five government agencies – NEA, Housing and Development Board (HDB), Singapore Power, PUB and the police. We were told that there are some telltale signs.

First, the NEA, Singapore Power and HDB said residents will be given advance notice of works to be carried out and of visits by their offices.

This could take the form of circulars posted to residents or notices put up at notice boards of HDB blocks.

Such notices also typically have information such as contact details, including phone numbers which residents can call to verify if the officers are who they say they are.

But there are exceptions.

NEA said in spot checks for possible mosquito- breeding sites, its officers do not inform residents before the visits.

The same goes for “feedback about issues such as insanitary premises, smell nuisance and illegal preparation of food for sale”, its spokesman said.

But all NEA officers tasked with inspecting premises will be in uniform – either a white shirt or polo T-shirt bearing the NEA logo, blue trousers and a name tag.

All the officers of the agencies we spoke to said residents can also ask to see their identification, usually official identity cards bearing their photograph.

Otherwise, the officers will carry an authorisation letter bearing the agency’s logo.

As for police officers, all of them are issued with a Singapore Police Force Warrant Card to prove that the officer is genuine, said police spokesman DSP William Goh.

He said: “If our officers are in plain clothes, they will identify themselves by producing the warrant card.”

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A genuine warrant card will have identification features such as the police crest, the photo of the officer, his name and NRIC number.

In the course of their work, police officers may interview witnesses or conduct searches on premises according to their powers, he added.

But the Singapore Power spokesman said that even with identification, its officers cannot enter a home unless given permission to do so.

“It should be noted that our staff will only enter the premises with the permission of the occupier,” the spokesman added.

As a last line of defence, residents should call the respective hotlines to check the identity of the officer.

DSP Goh said: “As each situation is unique, the public is advised to verify the identity of the police officer before complying with the instructions of the officer.

“If in doubt of the identity of the person claiming to be a police officer, such as when he is unable to produce his warrant card, call 999 for assistance.”

National Environment Agency (NEA)

WHY VISIT: To check for mosquito-breeding and to educate members of the public on how to prevent the breeding.

Conduct checks when there is feedback about public health issues such as insanitary premises, smell and illegal preparation of food for sale.

HOW TO TELL: Authority card issued by NEA and the uniform – white shirt or polo T-shirt bearing the NEA logo, blue trousers and a name tag.

WHO TO CALL: 24-hour NEA hotline at 1800-CALL-NEA (1800-225 5632).

Singapore Police Force

WHY VISIT: To interview witnesses or conduct on-site searches for investigations.

HOW TO TELL: Singapore Police Force Warrant Card. A genuine warrant card will have identification features such as the police crest, the photo of the officer, his name and NRIC number.

WHO TO CALL: Call 999 if in doubt.

Housing & Development Board

WHY VISIT: Maintenance or rectification work in a flat.

HOW TO TELL: A staff card bearing the officer’s photograph.

WHO TO CALL: Branch office service line at 1800-225 5432. Or send an SMS to 9011 2222 to verify if a contractor is an HDB-registered renovation contractor.

Singapore Power

WHY VISIT: To maintain and repair supply connections and inspect gas pipes.

HOW TO TELL: Officers will produce the identification pass bearing the agency’s logo, the photo of the officer, his name and NRIC number.

WHO TO CALL: 1800-2222 333 hotline

PUB, the national water agency

WHY VISIT: To read the water meter. But most water meters are placed outside homes. Some of them are located in the garden, in the case of private landed houses.

The reading of water meters is managed by PUB’s billing agent, SP Services.

HOW TO TELL: Photograph identification or a letter of authorisation (with PUB logo).

WHO TO CALL: PUB 24-hour call centre at 1800-2846600.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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