Health officials warn of deceptive tactics in sales of some water treatment systems

Published 7:33 am Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Scammers use bogus tests, false claims and inaccurate data

Following reports from concerned Minnesotans, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is warning consumers to beware of false claims, deceptive sales pitches, inaccurate water quality data and scare tactics used by some water treatment companies to sell expensive and unnecessary home water treatment units.

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According to reports received by MDH, a common tactic is for a salesperson to offer a free water test and then claim that some substances found in the test are above allowable limits for drinking water. Companies have also falsely implied that they are working with utilities or the state health department.

Most Minnesotans do not need to install home drinking water treatment to protect their health, according to Sandeep Burman, manager of the drinking water protection program for the Minnesota Department of Health. Cities and other public water systems are required to provide drinking water that meets federal safe drinking water standards to protect public health.

Here are some tips to consider about your water systems:

• If you get your drinking water from a public water system, your system provides an annual water quality report called a Consumer Confidence Report. Contact your water system for the report or find it online at Consumer Confidence Reports. Be sure to contact your water system about water quality data you find on third-party websites.

• Review MDH advice regarding deceptive sales practices.

• Visit MDH’s Beware of Water Treatment Scams webpage to read detailed advice about deceptive sales practices. For example, a salesperson might conduct a series of water quality “tests” and claim that the results indicate the presence of contamination. The tests may not represent the true water quality, or the levels of contaminants might be too low to pose a health risk.

• Water treatment should be installed only if it is actually needed and selected to address a specific water issue. If you are considering the purchase of home water treatment, please visit MDH’s Home Water Treatment webpage for guidance on selecting, installing and maintaining treatment.

• Contact authorities if you believe you have encountered a scam.

If you believe you have been provided false or misleading information or subjected to unfair or high-pressure tactics during a sales visit, contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office – Consumer Complaints division at 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787, or online at Minnesota Attorney General Office – Consumer Complaints.

There are licensing requirements for anyone performing water conditioning work (including installation or servicing of water treatment equipment) in Minnesota. Contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry at 651-284-5034 or for questions about obtaining a license, or 651-284-5069 for complaints or questions about who needs to be licensed.

More information about home water treatment and drinking water protection in your community is available on MDH’s Drinking Water Protection home page.