Scammers can come in all sorts of guises, so it’s important to be on your guard at all times – and especially if someone calls at your house when you weren’t expecting anyone.
While most visitors will be genuine, the sad fact is, some could be criminals with an ulterior motive.
To be on the safe side, you need to be extremely wary about who you answer the door to.
Here’s our guide to some of the steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling victim to doorstep crime.
Be on your guard
It’s important to remember that representatives from water, gas and electricity firms rarely visit without appointments – and that if there is a real emergency, police or firemen are likely to be present as well.
With this in mind, if someone knocks at your door unannounced, you need to be very cautious.
Plagued by nuisance callers? Read our tips to beat them.
Check their ID
If someone asks to be allowed in to carry out some repair work or to read a meter, always ask for proof of identification or authorisation.
Employees from reputable firms will carry ID cards with their photograph on.
If in doubt, call the company that that individual claims to come from to double check they are who they say they are.
Genuine callers won’t mind waiting while you do this.
Don’t use phone numbers that the caller provides you with to check, always find the number in the phone book, on the internet or from a bill, as they may just give you the number of an accomplice.
Don’t be fooled into letting people in
Remember that bogus callers may try to trick you into letting them in by saying there’s an urgent problem – such as a problem with your water supply – but do not be fooled by this.
Never open the door unless you are confident you know who you are letting in, and never part with money on the spot unless you know exactly what you are paying for.
And don’t forget – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Read our tips on what to do if you think someone else is being scammed.
Keep doors locked
Make sure you lock your back doors and windows before answering the front door, as criminals often work in pairs, with one entering through the back while one rings the doorbell at the front.
Use door chains and spy-holes
Make use of security measures, such as door chains and spy-holes, when someone comes to your home, and keep the chain on while you speak to the person on the doorstep.
Only open the door once you have checked who the caller is and feel happy about letting them into your home.
If you are in any doubt about the validity of a caller do not let them in. Call the police immediately.
Ask callers to wait outside
If you need to collect items from inside the house or check something indoors, make sure the caller stays outside – and close and lock the door.
Worried that a charity collector may be a fake? Read our guide to spotting bogus charity workers.
Don’t get distracted
If you let more than one person into your home to carry out a job, remain vigilant at all times while they are inside.
Bear in mind that criminals will often work together, with one distracting you so that another can steal money or other goods from you.
Request that callers return at another time
If you are uncomfortable about letting someone in to your house, ask them to return at another time.
That way, you can arrange to have someone else at the house with you the next time the caller pays a visit.
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