Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown a 6% rise in domestic burglary and according to National Trading Standards, 85% of victims of doorstep scams or ‘bogus callers’ are aged 65 and over. With winter on its way and the nights drawing in, we’re sharing some of our top tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe.
- First and foremost, remember: if you’re not sure, don’t open the door! If you have extra security features on your door, such as a door chain or a spy hole, be sure to use them while you check the identity of the caller. All employees from reputable companies will carry identity cards, so always ask to see identification.
- If you’re still unsure, get extra reassurance by ringing the company they are claiming to be from to confirm who they say they are. Never use a telephone number provided by a doorstep caller – use the one listed in your local directory.If they are from a utility company, use the number provided on your bill or other official correspondence. Don’t be worried about making someone wait – genuine callers will be understanding and it’s better to take your time and be sure.
- Be mindful that it’s unlikely that a water company will send a representative for a home visit without an agreed appointment and in cases of a genuine emergency, members of emergency services are likely to be present as well.
- Are your other doors and windows locked? Before answering your front door, ensure your windows and back door are also locked as criminals can often work in pairs, with one taking on the role of distractor at the front door, while the other enters the property through the back.
- Utility companies now offer password protection schemes – this means any caller from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password as additional proof of identity. If you have mobility issues, water companies will also provide a knock and wait service. This means when you arrange a home visit, the representative will wait outside for a much longer period of time after knocking to ensure you have enough time to answer. If you would like to know more about this – or any other additional service offered by your water company – contact them directly and ask for more information about the Priority Services Register. Alternatively, visit our information page.
- Surprisingly, it is still quite commonly reported that distraction burglars will often use obsolete phrases – for example, claiming to be from the ‘Water Board’ – which no longer exists – in order to gain access to someone’s home. If you are suspicious about the identity of a caller, or their behaviour, call the police.
- Finally, remember you are perfectly within your rights to refuse entry or ask the person to leave at any time if you’re not sure that they are genuine. If it is a legitimate caller, they can always ring ahead or reschedule.
You can find ways to help protect yourself and your family from bogus callers or to learn more about the Priority Services Register here.