Published: 21 October 2020
There has been an increase in doorstep scams. These scams are carried out by criminals knocking on doors, posing as tradespeople or council officers, and providing false information to gain access into your home. Sadly, this has resulted in burglaries and several residents being scammed out of money and personal information through various tricks.
We are urging our residents to help us take a stand against scams and beware of criminals, more than ever. Don’t let this happen to you - when in doubt, do not allow people into your home and instead phone us on 0800 358 3783.
Doorstep scams account for around 5% of all scams, according to research by Citizens Advice. Scammers often target older people as they are more likely to be at home during the day and might be easier to intimidate or confuse them. According to National Trading Standards, 85% of victims of doorstep scams are aged 65 and over.
Unfortunately, more criminals are taking advantage of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and we expect this type of criminal activity to become more frequent.
To protect and prevent you from becoming a victim, we are increasing walkabouts and safety checks across estates, where safe to do so. We ask you to be more alert and vigilant, especially when somebody knocks on your door and alarm bells ring.
Remember, we do not carry out cold calls on residents for tenancy matters, repairs, gas safety, or utility checks. We will always contact you via phone or letter and make an appointment with you before coming to your home. We would only ever carry out a cold call if we have been unable to reach you to make an appointment for several weeks.
- Protect yourself from doorstep scams and don’t let them in. Be on your guard and keep your home secure: always be suspicious of anyone turning up at the door uninvited – regardless of their story. 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, don’t let them in. It’s your home. Tell them you’re 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).
- Set up a utilities password: you can set up a password with your gas and electricity providers so that you can be sure callers (such as meter readers) are genuine – only genuine callers will be aware of your password. Call your utility company to arrange this. To activate the service, they might need to put you on their Priority Services Register. This gives access to extra services if you are of pensionable age, are registered disabled, have a hearing or visual impairment, or have long-term ill health.
- 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. If you don’t know anyone nearby, contact us and we will find someone who can help via our Westminster Connects volunteer service.
- Consider smart security devices: smart doorbells incorporate a camera and 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.
- Call the police: if a caller is really persistent and refuses to leave, you can call 999. If you are suspicious but not in immediate danger, call 101 – the police non-emergency number. Or contact us if the caller says they are working for the council and you want to check.