Answering the door
Beware of bogus callers or tricksters who pose as legitimate workers such as from the local authority and trick you into allowing them access into your home. The majority of callers to your home will be genuine but there are people out there who could turn up at your door with the aim getting you to allow them in so that they can steal your valuables and money.
When somebody knocks on your door and asks to use your phone after telling you that their car has broken down and they need to call the recovery service, think about what they could do whilst they are inside your home while you are distracted in helping them with the call. They could steal money, your belongings or worse.
These scams are going on all the time, and these scam merchants are increasingly creative. Variations on the theme are; the car’s run out of petrol and I’ve left my wallet at home or a family member has had an accident and I need the money to call a cab to get home to name but two of a limitless supply.
These people succeed because they sound so believable, so don’t let them fool you by following these simple steps:
- Use your chain and spy hole or look out of your window to see if you recognize them
- Talk to people through the door rather than opening it when they knock.
- Ask who they are and ask for identification and keep the chain on the door until you have seen it.
- If they are pretending to be utility workers or tradesmen, they should carry identity, ask to see it and check it. If you need glasses in order to read the card, close and lock the door before going to get them.
- Utilities offer a password identification system and if you caller is genuine they will know the password.
- If you’re not convinced, ask them to call back later when you have a friend, neighbour or relative with you.
Treat every stranger with caution. If you are still worried, dial 999 immediately and ask for the police.
Remember, these people can be cunning and very convincing. There are around 12,000 reported incidents of distraction burglary every year in which people are conned into letting people into their homes and the victim is then robbed of cash and valuables by an accomplice whilst being distracted by the bogus caller.
So be cautious and ask for identification when a stranger rings your bell. Don't let anybody in unless you are expecting them and the representatives of the water, gas and electric companies rarely make house calls without appointments.
The person may ask you to let them into your back garden so that they can collect something, do not let them distract you as they may not be alone and while you are opening the access to the back garden their accomplice may be inside your house filling their bags with your property.
Always make you’re your back door is closed and locked before answering the front door as these people often work in pairs with one distracting your at the front whilst the other enters the property through the back door to rifle your house contents.
Also do remember, if there is a real gas or water emergency, police and firefighters are likely to be present.
Never leave the door open and unattended.
Top 10 tips
If you want to be certain your house is as safe as you can make it, here are 10 tips you should follow.
- Fit strong locks to external doors and windows, and make sure they are locked at all times
- Always remove all keys from inside locks, and keep them out of sight and in a safe place
- Fit sturdy deadlocks (British Standard BS3621) to all doors
- Make sure your doors and frames are strong and in good condition - wood doors should be at least 44mm thick
- Mark your property - having it marked helps police verify it's been stolen
- Fit a door chain or bar and door viewer (spy-hole), and use them.
- Never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat, in a flowerpot or behind a loose brick - thieves know to look there first
- When you are out in the evening, leave your lights on and shut the curtains
- Install outside security lighting; if other people can see your property a burglar may think twice
- Keep your tools and ladders securely locked up – a burglar could use them to get into your house
Lock, Stop, Chain, Check
Your local council or social services office can advise you on installing door viewers, chains and personal alarms, all of which can make you safer when a stranger calls.