Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a warning Thursday about an incident in which someone allegedly entered a private residence and impersonated a child protective services caseworker in South Portland.
Lt. Frank Clark with South Portland police said officers responded Monday to a report of a suspicious person at a residence on Chapel Street.
“The resident said he was inside his house when he heard someone knock on a door and it sounded like an interior door,” Clark said. “When he got up to see what it was, a male was already inside the house.”
The man told the resident he was a child protective services caseworker and was following up on an anonymous tip. There were no children in the house at the time and the lieutenant said he didn’t know if the occupants even have children.
“The resident wanted more information about what the man was doing in the house and he was unable to provide it,” Clark said. “After that, he quickly said, ‘It looks like everything is in order here,’ and then left.”
The resident described the man as Asian, in his 30s and dressed professionally in a button-up shirt, khaki pants and dress shoes. He left in a red 4-door sedan but the resident did not catch the license plate number.
Clark said the incident was unusual and said there have not been any additional reports since. Anyone who might have information is asked to contact the police department at 207-874-8575.
Child protective services employees investigate suspected neglect or abuse of children and in some cases are tasked with removing children from homes, but DHHS said all employees are required to provide proof.
“It is important to remember that all DHHS employees are issued an identification card (ID) when they are hired and are instructed to keep their card on them during work hours,” the department said in a news release. “When out in the field, (child protective services) staff are instructed to present their ID cards to families they are working with. Employees are not allowed to refuse to show their ID card when asked.”
Each card contains the Maine DHHS logo, a picture of the employee with their name and title and a number to contact if the ID is lost.
DHHS said anyone who is visited by someone claiming to work for the agency can request to see ID and can contact the department at 1-800-452-1999 to verify that person’s identity.