Advice guide - Dealing with unexpected callers
Dealing with unexpected callers at your door
A distraction burglary is where a criminal calls at your home posing as an official or asks for your help with something. They can make up a story to get in to your home.
Burglars need not go to the trouble of breaking in if they can just knock on your door and be invited in. Always be on your guard when anyone you’re not expecting - a man, woman or even a child - turns up at your door.
Follow the advice on this page to help prevent you becoming a victim of distraction burglary.
- LOCK - Keep your front and back doors locked even when you are at home.
- STOP - Before you answer, stop and think whether you are expecting anyone. Check you have locked the back door and taken the key out. Look through a spy hole or window to see who the caller is.
- CHAIN - If you decide to open the door, put the chain or door bar on first, if you have one. Keep the chain or bar on while you are talking to the caller. With PVC doors, it can be difficult and costly to fit a door chain. Check with the manufacturer before you buy a PVC door, that a chain can be fitted.
- FIRE SAFETY - Only put on your door chain as you answer the door, don’t keep it on all the time as this could delay your exit in case of fire.
- CHECK - Look at their clothing. Some official callers will have a uniform bearing their organisation name or logo. Even if the caller has a pre-arranged appointment with you, check their identification card carefully. Close the door while you do this. If you are still unsure, call the company concerned to verify their representative’s identity. If you’re still not sure ask the caller to come back later when someone is with you.
- You should never agree to have any work done by someone who is just passing by.
- Ensure your back door is locked if you are answering the front door to someone you don’t know.
- Watch out for anyone who says they’re in a hurry or it’s an emergency. Don’t let them pressure you. If in doubt, call a neighbour or friend or the police.
- If you think a bogus caller has been to your home, call the police immediately on 999
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You can see an up-to-date list of builders, plumbers, gardeners, painters, electricians and many other types of business at: www.checkatrade.com
- Try to get at least three written quotations.
- Quotations should include a breakdown of costs including any extras and VAT where payable.
- Check payment timing and agree any deposits and retention details. Avoid making payments ‘up front’ unless it’s for materials which are on site and you have a receipt for.
- For contracts agreed at home you have cancellation right, The business should give you a written cancellation notice giving you a 14 day cooling off period.
- For larger jobs consider choosing a contractor that offers an insurance backed guarantee.
If things go wrong
You have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. For initial advice and information on all aspects of buying goods and services contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 05 06 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk
- Nottinghamshire Victim Care (Cope and Recovery Empowerment) - 0300 303 1967
- Age UK - www.ageuk.org.uk 0800 678 1174
As part of their service Nottingham On Call offers a Bogus Caller Button- a silent alarm to be used when you feel threatened after answering the door to an uninvited caller. When the button is pressed no alarm will sound but the call centre will hear the intruder and intervene or contact the police if necessary.
To find out more please visit the following website: http://nottinghamoncall.org.uk/
Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards has a Nominated Neighbour Scheme to help protect vulnerable people from unscrupulous doorstep callers and rogue traders. If you live in Nottinghamshire then you can Nominate a Neighbour to deal with uninvited callers on your behalf.
Alternatively you may be a neighbour of a vulnerable person and would like to find out more about becoming a Nominated Neighbour. If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme then please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 who will refer your enquiry through to Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards.
For further advice please refer to our advice centre.
To speak to our Crime Prevention Unit about protecting your property and reducing your chances of becoming a victim of crime, email firstname.lastname@example.org