Don't be tricked into buying a water filter

By Anthony GiorgianniConsumer Reports

Water filtration systems can be a smart purchase if there really are contaminants you need to remove from your drinking water. But don't be tricked into buying a filtration system unnecessarily.

The Massachusetts attorney general recently accused two companies of trying to mislead consumers into believing that their water was not safe, fit and pure to drink. The companies used mailed advertisements and door-to-door flyers to promote home water filtration systems that in some cases cost of thousands of dollars.

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Both companies have agreed not engage in deceptive marketing of water filtration systems and to pay thousands dollars in penalties and costs.

What to do

Don't be taken in if a water filter company contacts you unsolicitedly or runs advertising suggesting that your water is unsafe or otherwise not fit to drink. One way to find out what's in your water is to check your water utility's so-called consumer confidence report. The EPA requires utilities to provide a CCR to their customers every year. You also might find the CCR printed in your newspaper or posted on your local government website.

If you have well water, the only way to know if it's safe is to have it tested.  Call the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) for the names of state-certified testing labs or for information about your local health authority, which might offer low-cost or free test kits. Or visit the Environmental Protection Agency's laboratory certification program online. You might find that you don't need a water filter after all.

Read our Water Filter Buying Guide for more information about water quality and advice for selecting a water filtration system when you really need one (includes ratings for subscribers.)

Anthony Giorgianni

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