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Scammers commonly target older people for doorstep scams. In fact, 85% of victims of doorstep scams are aged 65 and over according to National Trading Standards.
We'll show you some simple steps that you can take to help you stay safe on your doorstep.
Doorstep scams are when someone comes to your door with the aim of scamming you out of your money or trying to gain access to your home to steal items from inside.
While there are many legitimate tradespeople and officials, it’s wise to be on your guard when you answer your door. Doorstep scammers can be pushy and persuasive and it can be easy to fall victim. It’s especially important to be vigilant and aware if you live on your own.
Lock, stop, chain and check
Whenever you answer the door remember to lock, stop, chain, check.
Lock: secure all your other outer doors as the person at the door may intend to distract you while an accomplice gets in through a back door
Stop: think about whether you’re expecting anyone
Chain: put the door chain on or look through the window or spyhole to see who’s there
Check: ask for an identity card and examine it carefully - you can always tell the caller to come back another time when someone will be with you.
You can set up a password with your utility companies so you know that they are genuine if they send someone round. In order to arrange this, you may need to ask your supplier to put you on their Priority Services Register, which gives access to extra services if you are of pensionable age, are registered disabled, have a hearing or visual impairment, or have long-term ill health.
Nominate a neighbour
Find out if you have a nominated neighbour scheme where a neighbour can help to make sure if callers are safe. Contact your local Neighbourhood Watch to find out more.
Check their credentials
You should always check a seller or trader’s credentials before agreeing to purchase their products or services. See our guide Avoiding scams (PDF 327KB) for tips on how to do that.
Call the police
Finally, remember that you can dial 999 if you’re suspicious or the caller won’t leave. Call the police non-emergency number 101 if you’re not in immediate danger but want to report an incident.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam
There's no shame or embarrassment in falling victim to a scam – it happens to lots of people. If you report it, it may help to prevent others from experiencing the same thing.
You can report it to Action Fraud – they may be able to track down the fraudster. You can also contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice.
There are many different types of doorstep scams, and here are 5 you should be aware of.
1) Rogue traders
A cold-caller may offer you a service you don’t really need. They may try to push you into agreeing to unnecessary home repairs or improvements, often at extortionate prices. A common tactic is when they claim to have noticed something about your property that needs work or improvement.
What to do:
2) Bogus officials
A common trick is when someone pretends to be from your electricity or gas company as a way to get into your home and steal from you.
3) Bogus charity collections
A fraudster may ask you to donate money, clothing or household goods for a charity. In fact this is a trick to steal money from you. Any items you give will be sold on.
4) Fake consumer surveys
Some scammers ask you to complete a survey so they can get hold of your personal details, or use it as a cover for persuading you to buy something you don’t want or need.
5) Hard luck stories
Someone with a hard luck story may come to your door and ask you to help them out with cash. The story they tell you is made up and intended to con you out of your money.
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