Help someone you know stay safe from bogus callers

Distraction burglaries, or bogus caller crimes are at their peak during the summer months, and the Consumer Council for Water has some top tips and a form to help householders stay safe from bogus callers.

Around 30 bogus caller crimes happen in England and Wales every day, and a number of these criminals try to trick their way into a home by saying that they are from a utility company, particularly, the ‘water board’.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Bogus calling is a particularly disturbing crime because it deliberately targets the vulnerable.

“The general advice is that if someone turns up on your doorstep asking to come into your home, call the company he or she claims to be from to check that they are who they say they are. However, we know that it’s not always easy to have the relevant phone numbers to hand.

“We want to make sure that everyone has the information they need should someone unexpectedly come knocking, and we have developed a new section of our website to help people protect themselves against bogus callers. Anyone can go to our website choose their utility suppliers and print off a list of phone numbers along with our top tips to keep near the telephone.

“Our hope is that people will have the information, but will never need to use it, rather than the other way around.

“In addition to this people can also follow our top 5 tips to protect themselves against bogus callers.”

Those who would feel safer with more protection against bogus callers are encouraged to register a password with their water or energy company.

Top 5 Tips to protect against bogus callers

  1. Keep your door on the chain and look to see who is calling before opening it.
  2. Ask to see the caller’s identification. He or she should show it to you through the crack in the door, or through the letter box. Check that the person is genuine by calling the organisation, but make sure you get the phone number from a separate source, such as the phone book or a previous bill.
  3. You are entirely within your rights to have the person wait outside while you phone the organisation the caller says they are from to check their validity.
  4. It’’s OK to ask the person to leave if you’’re not completely satisfied that the caller is genuine. If the visit is legitimate, they can ring ahead or reschedule.
  5. If the visitor insists they need access immediately, or before you carry out the necessary checks immediately call 999.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, commented: “Although crime against older people is less likely than other age groups, this type of crime is often targeted particularly at those who are older or more vulnerable. However, there are some simple precautions that people can take to protect themselves such as applying the principles of Lock, Stop, Chain and Check.   “Firstly, make sure that all outer doors are locked, including your back door so that no one can get in when you’re at the front door. Next, stop and think about if you are expecting anyone. Put on your chain and look through the window or spy hole to see who is calling. Finally, ask the caller for an identity card and examine it carefully.

“Even if you are familiar with the organisation they are from don’t be afraid to call their offices to check who they are – remember you can get their number from the phone book, Internet or by looking at previous bills from them. If they are a genuine caller they will understand and wait for you. If you think it would help, try to keep any relevant contact details on hand or by the telephone.

“Most importantly, if you’re not sure about someone don’t feel embarrassed about refusing to let them in. It’s your door and you do not have to let anyone in that you do not want to.”

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