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Doorstep scams

Doorstep scams are when someone comes to your door with the aim of scamming you out of your money. Or a fraudster may pose as an official in order to access your home and steal money and valuables.

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.

You don’t have to let any stranger into your home. 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.

Watch out for these common doorstep scams:

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.

  • Don’t agree to sign a contract or hand over any money until you have talked to someone you trust.
  • Never disclose your personal identification number (PIN) 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.

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.

  • Ask for their identity card and check it carefully. Keep your utilities services phone numbers 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 their representatives are genuine.

Bogus charity collections

A fraudster may ask you to donate money or 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.

  • 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 028 3832 0220. You can also report charity donation fraud to them.

Phoney 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Never feel pressured into giving money to someone you don’t know. Call the police if you think you’re being scammed.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a doorstep sales scam:

  • 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.
  • Protect yourself - put a ‘no cold callers’ sign up on your door.

You don’t have to let any stranger into your home. Whenever you answer the door remember to lock, stop, chain, check.

  • Lock: secure all your other outer doors. 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 spy-hole 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.

Further information

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For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575

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