What is a bogus caller?
These are people who use distraction techniques to preoccupy a victim and steal from their home. This could be someone asking to use the bathroom or telephone or for a drink of water. Whilst the occupier's back is turned, the thief will steal whatever they can find. Bogus callers may also pretend to be a utility worker or tradesman to gain access to a property.
Bogus Workmen are different from bogus callers as they will carry out general maintenance work which is often shoddy or not completed. They will then charge an excessive amount for the work carried out. Another tactic used, is to ask for the money up front under the pretence of purchasing building materials. After the money is received they will not return to the premises and the work is left undone.
How can you spot a bogus caller?
Representatives from genuine companies should arrange an appointment with you before calling at your door. If you are in on your own, ask them to come back at a time when you have someone with you. Genuine company representatives will not have a problem with this.
Bogus callers are very sophisticated and are very skilled at deception. They will use a number of ways to try and gain entry to your home to steal and trick you out of money. These include:
- Bogus official - someone calls to your door claiming to be from a council department or utility company. They might be smartly dressed or might even be wearing a uniform. You should always check identification. Utility companies operate a password system you can use to make sure the caller is genuine. Contact your utility provider to ask if they offer this service.
- Bogus sales people - might attempt to sell products on your doorstep. Using the element of surprise, they can trick you into paying for something you don’t want or paying an unfair price. Never agree to pay for something at your door or invite any sales people into your home who appear unexpectedly.
- Bogus workmen - come to your home and can trick you into paying for work to be carried out that you simply don’t need. They might tell you work needs to be done immediately and ask for payment right there and then. Never hand over any money up front or offer to go and get money. If you do need work done, always get at least three different written quotations on company headed paper with the company's name, address and telephone number before you agree to have work done. You could also ask friends, family and neighbours for recommendations. Never agree to pay for any work offered on your doorstep.
As well as workmen or sales people, bogus callers can also pretend to be someone in need of help. If somebody calls at your door looking for help, be careful as they may not be genuine. If you’re vulnerable or you live alone don’t let them into your home.
Bogus phone calls
Bogus callers can also make contact with you by phone. The caller might pretend to be from your bank and ask for personal information such as bank details, or they might be someone offering you a deal or a prize. Remember:
- Don’t give out any personal information unless you are the one who made the call and you are certain of the identity of the caller.
- Never send money to anyone who claims to have a prize for you. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t give out your credit card or bank card details to strangers on the telephone.
How can you stop bogus callers?
Follow these simple steps:
- Use the door viewer when answering the door.
- Check identification badges of anyone calling at your door.
- If you don’t know the person who is calling, and you’re not expecting them, don’t let them in.
- If you have a password with a company make sure the caller uses it.
- Never let people try to persuade you to let them into your home. If someone is persistent, ask them to call at another time and arrange for a friend or family member to be with you.
- Never agree to pay for goods or give money to strangers who arrive at your door.
- Don’t keep large amounts of money in your home.
- If the person refuses to leave your door, dial 999 and ask for the police.
Remember, it’s your home. There’s no reason why anyone should ever enter your home against your wishes.
Keep the caller out of your house or ask them to leave and call the police immediately. You might also want to try to alert a family member or attract a neighbour’s attention but you should always contact the police first by dialling 999. The police would much rather attend a false alarm have someone fall victim to a bogus caller.
Should I note down their vehicle registration if they’re in a car/van?
Yes. Any information about the person should be noted down and given to the police.
Help protect your family and friends from bogus callers.
If you have vulnerable family, friends or neighbours, there are things you can do to help protect them against bogus callers.
Everyone has a part to play, whether it is keeping an eye out for a strange van in your elderly neighbour's driveway or making sure your mum or dad aren’t regularly taking large amounts of cash out of the bank. Bogus callers will often target the same victim more than once so the earlier the police are informed the better. Friends and family of vulnerable householders should also discuss the advice on this page with them and remember:
- Not everyone is who they appear to be.
- Keep bogus callers out of your home.
- For more information on doorstep crime or assistance regarding home security contact your local Community Policing Team.
- You can help us keep your family, friends and neighbours safe by passing on this advice.
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