How To Remove The Electric Meter Tamper Tag (Find Out Now!)

Electricians may be familiar with removing the electric meter tamper tag, but it can be a mystery to laymen. However, homeowners should not remove the tag for several reasons, and it is up to the electrical problem. Follow along as we explore the fines and consequences of removing the tamper tag on your electric meter.

How To Remove The Electric Meter Tamper Tag

When you’re dealing with electrical issues, it’s rare that you will ever need to head right over to the electric meter and tinker around. However, it can still happen. When you do, you might notice that there’s a tag or a small chain around the lock that prevents you from opening the meter. That’s the tamper tag, and you probably want to know how to remove it before you start your work.

If you want to remove the electric meter tamper tag, you have to contact your electrical company and ask them to remove it. While you could technically use wire cutters to remove the tag, doing so will cause you to get fined. If you are a repeat offender, your electricity provider may choose to cut off electricity to your home. 

The electric meter tamper tag looks flimsy, but it has a real serious implication. If you’ve ever wondered what the protocol is for removing it, hang on tight. We did some research so you don’t have to.

Why Is There A Tamper Tag On My Electric Meter?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that electricity is pretty pricey these days, and the price only ever seems to increase. In the past, many people would try to circumvent paying for their electricity by popping over the meter and tampering with it. To prevent this and ensure that meter readings are accurate, companies placed a tamper tag on their meters.

The tamper tag is there to ensure that the meters haven’t been toyed with between readings. It’s a safeguard and actually acts as part of the agreement that you entered into with your utility company.

Who Is Allowed To Remove The Tamper Tag?

On a technical note, only the utility company is really allowed to remove the tag. However, most electricians are also fairly qualified to remove the tamper tag. In the majority of cases, calling an electrician will mean that companies won’t care if you remove the tag. With that said, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

The Likelihood Of Getting In Trouble For Removing An Electric Meter Tag

Though the chances of getting in trouble for having an electric meter tag removed illegally are immense. In reality, it’s hard to tell what the companies will do. Many care on paper, but won’t care about the tamper tag in practice. While we cannot say that it’s safe to pull a meter tag off your meter, there is a chance you might be able to get away with it.

Even though it’s possible, it’s not a good idea to try it. In fact, it doesn’t even make sense. Why risk something when you can just wait a little bit and have the tamper tag removed for free?

How Bad Are The Penalties For Removing An Electric Meter’s Tamper Tags?

Removing an electric meter’s tags is considered to be a violation of the good faith agreement you made with the utility company. In some cases, it’s also a violation of local municipal codes. The penalties for removing your tamper tag can be pretty steep or fairly simple depending on your jurisdiction. Here’s what you might be able to expect from an illegal removal:

  • Fines. Most offenses will involve some kind of fine or fee, usually to cover the cost of replacing the broken tamper tag at the least. At most, it will be a prohibitively pricey fee meant to teach a lesson. The fines can range from a simple $25 tag replacement fee to 
  • Tougher Locks. This can be an issue if you are a repeat offender.
  • Warning Letters. If you got one of these, it’s either a slap on the wrist or a sign that you’re about to be sued if it happens again.
  • Landlord Issues. If you’re caught tampering with your tamper tags as a renter, and there is proof that you did it on purpose, you might have issues with your landlord. Some might consider this to be an act of vandalism and ask you to leave the property.
  • Vandalism Charges. Though this is exceedingly rare, it’s possible to get hit with a vandalism charge by local police. You do not own the tamper tag. If you clip it or remove it, you technically are vandalizing someone else’s property. Police can charge you for it.
  • Electricity Theft Charges. Electricity theft is viewed as a pretty major crime in most states. Depending on the quantity you’re charged in stealing, you can face several months or even years in prison.
  • Utility Shutoff. Let’s say that you’ve repeatedly cut off the electric meter’s tamper tags and locks. And, let’s also say that you might’ve been caught finagling with the meter. If this is the case and it’s legal in your state, they can shut off the electricity to your home.

How Long Does It Take For The Electric Meter Tamper Tag To Be Removed?

This all depends on the electricity company that you have as well as the region that you’re in. Usually, what happens is that you will need to book an appointment with the company to get them removed. They will schedule you any time between the day after you call to several weeks after, depending on what’s available. Once they get there, it takes five minutes to remove the tag.

Of course, if you hire a local electrician, then you can usually get same-day service. They may still charge a small fee for the replacement tag, if you want one, but it’s up to you.

How Much Does A Replacement Tamper Tag Cost?

Electric meter tamper tags will vary in price depending on the provider as well as whether or not you can buy them online. (Online, they’re called electric meter seals or electric meter locks, FYI!) Most electric meter seals will cost between $10 to $50, depending on the type of lock they have as well as any other specialized gadgetry. 

We want to emphasize that there is always a chance that your utility provider could notice that the tag you have isn’t the one you started with. So even if you try to make sure that you cover your tracks, it might backfire.

What Should You Do If Someone Else Pried Off Your Tamper Tag?

Sometimes, kids in the neighborhood might want to spark a little mischief. If you find that a nosy kid decided to snip off your tag, the best way that you can protect yourself legally is to call your electricity provider and alert them to what happened. From there, they will file a police report and hopefully catch the offending kids.

Related Questions

Is it against code to cover your electric meter?

Nationally, covering your electric meter is not considered to be a violation of the Electrician Code. So, overall, you should be considered safe to do so. However, that doesn’t mean that local and state housing standards won’t have their own rules and regulations to keep in mind.

If you are unsure about the rules regarding covering an electric meter, it’s best to call up the electric company to find out their guidelines. If that doesn’t help, just keep your electric meter cover-free.

Can an electric meter be painted?

Most electric meters could be described as eyesores, especially if you are going for a uniform look to your home exterior. The good news is that you don’t have to deal with the brushed steel (or forest green) look of a typical meter if you don’t want to. Most modern meters are designed to be paintable.

When painting your meter, make sure to keep the reading area clear of paint. Your electric tech still needs to be able to read what energy you used from month to month!

Who owns the electricity meter box on the side of my house?

Believe it or not, you are not the owner of the meter box stuck to the side of your home. Your utility company (or municipality, depending on local laws) will be the ones who own it. This means that any damage that you do to your meter can be considered an act of vandalism.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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