Who Are Bogus Callers?
While some burglars attempt to break into homes, some will try to trick or con their way into your home (or you out of it). Bogus callers, also known as ‘distraction burglars’, often pretend to be people on official business, posing as workers from utilities companies, the council, or even police officers.
However, they may not pretend to be on official business, they may have a more mundane story or request: asking for a drink, needing to wash their hands, looking for a lost pet – the story is only limited by the burglars creativity! They may also involve props, like identity cards or clothing sporting an official logo.
Password Identification System
Most, if not all, utility providers (such as gas, electricity and water) now offer a password identification system. The providers, particularly in the case of visits to the homes of the elderly or vulnerable, give the customer a word or password that the visitor must provide to prove that they are who they say they are.
Additionally, utility providers often have a hotline which can be called to check the identity of people arriving to your home. If you’re worried about security, ensure you make use of these services – they are there to protect you.
Security Doors and Chains
It is wise to consider attaching a security door accessory to your door, such as a door bar, chain or spy hole. Bars tend to be cheaper than chains, and easier to use and fit. However, they can be difficult to fit on PVC doors – steel security doors on the other hand offer greater security and are easier to attach accessories to.
If you do choose to use a PVC door, make sure to ask the manufacturer or supplier if a security accessory can be attached first. Door bars and chains are a good extra layer of security for when you’re answering the door but for safety, only keep the bar or chain on when you are answering the door – keep it off at other times to make getting out in an emergency easier.
While rogue traders aren’t strictly bogus callers, they sometimes work with them and also perpetrate doorstop crime. Rogue traders will offer to do work on your home or garden that is unnecessary, over-priced, and quite often both. They have no formal training and are there just to take your money – follow these steps to keep yourself protected:
- Never go to a bank or cash machine with the trader
- Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into accepting work
- If you need work doing, discuss it with a relative or friend who might know someone they can recommend
- Never agree or sign anything on the spot
Four Steps to Keep Safe
The Home Office offers these four points to help you keep yourself safe: Lock, Stop, Chain and Check.
Lock: Remember to keep all your doors locked, even when you are at home.
Stop: Before you answer the door to a visitor, ask yourself, am I expecting anyone? Check that any back doors are locked and look out of the sky hole or window to see who it is.
Chain: Make use of that chain or bar on your door: when you answer to a stranger, keep the bar or chain on whilst you are talking to them. Some bogus callers may attempt to pressure you by claiming an emergency, asking to come inside for a drink or to make a phone call, or to get you to come outside – only do so if you have somebody else with you, or if you’re absolutely sure your visitor is telling the truth.
Check: If someone official knocks at the door, always ask for an identity card (even if you were expecting them) – it is policy they carry one. Check whether they look like the person on the card – is their name the same as the one you were expecting? Remember that you can request this information from whoever is responsible for sending the official to your home. Only let them into your home if you are sure they are genuine.
What To Do If You Believe a Bogus Caller Has Knocked At The Door
- Report it to the police: call 999 as soon as possible and give them a clear description of the individual(s)
- Get in contact with neighbours, caretakers and people from Neighbourhood Watch to alert other people in your area
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kcivey/