Householders are being warned to be on their guard against the threat of bogus callers.
The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has produced a list of top tips to help stop people falling foul of distraction burglars or bogus callers. These criminals pretend to be from a utility company or another organisation to trick their way into a home before stealing money or other valuables.
Around ten bogus caller crimes are reported in England and Wales every day but the actual number of incidents is likely to be higher, with only one in every ten crimes being reported. Over a quarter of the incidents reported to police from April 2012 to March 2013 involved someone claiming to be from a water company or the water board. These callers may appear to be wearing something that looks like a water company uniform so, before unlocking the door, CCWater advises people to ask to see their identification and then call the company – but not using any number provided by the doorstep caller.
Those who would like even more protection are encouraged to register a password beforehand with their water or energy company. This is then quoted by the caller as proof they are from that organisation.
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: Bogus calling is a very disturbing crime because it deliberately targets vulnerable customers.
We want to make sure that everyone has the information they need should someone unexpectedly come knocking, and we have a section of our website www.ccwater.org.uk to help people protect themselves against bogus callers claiming to be from the water company or water board.
Anyone can go to our website; choose their water supplier, and print off contact phone numbers along with our list of top tips to keep near the telephone.
The Consumer Council for Waters Top Tips to protect against bogus callers
- Keep your doors locked and your windows secure at all times. Only put the door chain on to answer the door.
- Ask to see the callers identification. He or she should show it to you through the crack in the door, or the letter box. You are entirely within your rights to close the door and have the person wait outside while you phone the organisation the caller says they are from to check their validity. Always keep this telephone number close to your phone.
- Check the person is genuine by calling the organisation, but make sure you get the phone number from a separate source, such as the print out from our website (why not do this now and keep it by the phone), the phone book or a previous bill. We recommend that you check their identification even if they appear to be in a companys uniform.
- Its OK to refuse entry or ask the person to leave at any time if youre not completely satisfied that the caller is genuine. If the visit is legitimate, they can ring ahead or reschedule.
- If the visitor insists they need access immediately or before you carry out the necessary checks immediately call 999.