Bogus callers / doorstep scams

Man at front door

Bogus callers / doorstep scams

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.

Protect yourself

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.


Password protected

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.


How to deal with common doorstep scams

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:


  • Don’t agree to sign a contract or hand over money until you've talked to someone you trust
  • Never disclose your PIN number or let anyone persuade you to hand over your bank card or go to the bank to withdraw cash for a payment
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson to leave. If they refuse, call the police.

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.

What to do:


  • Ask for their identity card and check it carefully. Keep the numbers for your utilities services handy so you can easily call and check an official’s identity
  • Join your utilities companies’ password schemes. This is where you arrange a password with the company to check that their representatives are genuine. 

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.

What to do:


  • Legitimate charities must be registered with the Charity Commission and their registration details displayed on collection bags and envelopes
  • Check the registered charity number on the Charity Commission website or call them on 0845 300 0218. You can also report charity donation fraud to them. 

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.

What to do:


  • Ask for an identity card and check it carefully. Phone the company they represent – get the number from your phone book rather than calling a number they give you
  • If you don’t feel comfortable doing a survey, ask them to leave. You are under no obligation to do any surveys if you don’t want to. 

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.

What to do:


  • Never feel pressured into giving money to someone you don’t know. Call the police if you think you’re being scammed.
Advice line:
08000 223 444

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