Doorstep Scams


Creative Team
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7 Jan 2019
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Doorstep fraud is where fraudsters try to scam you after knocking on your door.

What is a doorstep scam?

A doorstep scam (or doorstep fraud) involves someone coming to your home and knocking on the door, with the aim of tricking you out of money. There can be added pressure with face-to-face interaction, which can sometimes be more challenging than dealing with phone scams, postal scams and online scams. There are lots of honest doorstep sellers, but there is a fine line between a scammer and an unscrupulous trader.

Scammers usually have the gift of the gab and will try to smooth talk you with a convincing story. Or they might be pushy and intimidating, trying to get you to sign a contract or buy something you don’t want. Their main aim is to trick you out of money or gain access to your home to steal valuables. Either way, the key is not to let them in and report them as soon as possible. Follow our tips below to prevent doorstep scams.

They might be pretending to collect money for charity or offering to sell you overpriced or substandard products or services, such as home improvements. In the case of rogue traders, they will call uninvited and offer to do some work on your roof, driveway, or garden.

They will often say the work is urgent and will normally ask for immediate payment, even offering to go to the bank with you. Suddenly you may find the price has increased, or they have disappeared without finishing, or even starting the work.

They may even pretend that they are working on your neighbour’s property and need access to yours to check a leak, or something similar. Once on your property, they will spot something that needs urgent attention and offer to fix it.

Pushy salespeople can try and pressure you into buying something you don’t need or want, or something that’s poor value for money. They will give fake contact details so it is impossible to identify them or contact them afterwards. If you’ve paid them in advance, you won’t get your money back.

Distraction burglars work in pairs; one person may keep you at the front door while another one gains entry to your home from the side or rear.

Some scammers will try to obtain your personal details, such as your name and address, bank account numbers or credit card details, in order to use them later to order goods and services, or loans, in your name.

The problem is that many legitimate companies and charities also ply their trade door-to-door.

How big is the problem?
Scammers often target older people for doorstep scams as they are more likely to be at home during the day and scammers might find it easier to intimidate or confuse them. In fact, most victims of doorstep scams are aged 65 and over.

So how can you protect yourself against doorstep scammers?
  • Be on your guard: always be suspicious of anyone turning up at the door uninvited – regardless of their story.
  • Put up a sign: place a sign in the window near your front door saying that uninvited Callers are not welcome.
  • Keep your home secure: Don’t let any stranger into your home. Keep your doors locked with the chain on. Ask to see callers’ ID cards and call the company to see if they are genuine. To be safe, look up the company number yourself rather than trust the number on their ID card. If you feel uncomfortable or have any doubts, do not let them in. It is your home. Tell them you are not interested or that now is ‘not convenient’ and ask them to come back at a different time (when you can have a friend or relative with you).
  • Nominate a neighbour: If you have a relative or friend who lives close by, ask if they’d mind being on standby in case you get any suspicious callers on the doorstep. Do not let a stranger into your house, give your neighbour a call and ask them to pop around. A genuine caller will return at a prearranged time when you’re able to have someone else in your home with you.
  • Consider smart security devices: Smart doorbells incorporate a camera and can enable you to speak to a caller without opening the door; some can also send a message to a relative notifying them that you have a visitor.
  • Take a photo: If you’re suspicious, ask the caller if you can take their photo on your mobile phone. Then send it to a close friend or relative. If the caller is genuine, they probably won’t mind.
  • Don’t be a scam victim
  • Don’t be coerced into being driven to an ATM or bank to withdraw money.
  • Legitimate door knockers should have a work ID, which is required under the direct sales act, it must be present and have a number you can call to verify the sales agent intentions.
  • Keep your front and back doors locked, even when you are at home.
  • Install a ‘spy hole’ or electronic viewer in your front door so you can see who it is before you open the door or a door chain.
  • The safest thing to do is simply not to answer the door to anyone you are not expecting.
  • However, if you do answer the door, and you don’t know the person, just say ‘no’. Tell them you have a friend or relative who can sort out any problems. If they persist, tell them to leave or you will call the police.
  • Don’t be fooled by sales talk such as:
    • “We’re working around the corner and noticed a loose tile on your roof.”
    • “We’re in your area and it’s a special price if you agree today.”
    • “I’ve just done a job for your neighbour.”
  • If your doorstep visitor is claiming to be fundraising for a charity, check that the charity is genuine by looking online for their charities number, phone number and calling the office to check the collection is real. Never check their authenticity by using phone numbers provided by the collector.
  • If you’re in any doubt at all, just ask the person to leave.
  • It’s not rude to ask someone to leave. Here are some things you can say to get rid of callers on your doorstep:
    • “I never deal with cold callers at the door, please would you leave.”
    • “I have a neighbour who helps me, so please go and knock on their door first.”
    • “I don’t know who you are, so would you please leave.”
Report a scam:

Call the Police: If a door knocker/caller is really persistent and refuses to leave, you can call 111. If you are suspicious, but not in immediate danger, call 105 – the police non-emergency number.
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