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.
Put up a deterrent sign
You could put a ‘no cold callers’ sign up on your door or window, which should deter any cold callers from knocking on your door. You can download a free sign (PDF 236 KB) from Action Fraud.
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 or your local Safer Neighbourhood police team 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 327 KB) 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 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.
The little book of big scams
The Little book of big scams by the Metropolitan Police offers more hints and tips to stop you becoming a victim of fraud.
The little book of big scams (PDF 2.7 MB)