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Doorstep scams to look out for

Female Salesperson Trying To Persuade Older Woman

Doorstep scams have become much more common in recent years, with 5,228 reported cases of door-to-door sales and rogue traders in 2021 alone. Preying on misinformation and the good nature of the public, these scams can often seem legitimate and hard to recognise. As these scammers become more sophisticated, it’s vital that you stay aware of their latest tactics and how to protect yourself against them. We’re here to tell you all the common signs of doorstep  scams and how not to fall for them.

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Older Woman Looks Scared At Suspicious Person At Door

What is a doorstep scam?

Doorstep scams are a form of scam that occurs when someone tries to gain access to your money or home through ingenuous or illegal ways. They often take the form of door-to-door sales, someone pretending to be a tradesperson, charity worker, or even needing help.

People often presume doorstep scammers are pushy in their approach, but that isn’t always the case. They can often appear polite and friendly, but that doesn’t always mean you can trust who’s on your doorstep. 

Finger Pressing Doorbell

Common forms of doorstep scams

As people become more knowledgeable, doorstep scams continue to evolve to catch victims out. However, here are some common doorstep scams to be aware of.

Doorstep callers

Rogue traders pretend to notice structural issues with your home that they claim to know how to fix. These swindles typically target older and more vulnerable members of our Communities, so be wary of any tradesperson who claims you need work without you first asking for their help.

Fake police or bank staff

Watch out for any doorstep callers that claim to be from the police or your bank. These scammers will often ask for personal bank details like your PIN number or to see your bank cards, which legitimate police or bank workers would never ask for.

Door-to-door sales

Be wary of pushy sellers who say they have large discounts, time-limited offers or only claim to have limited stock. This forceful style can often be a telltale sign of a scammer, as it forces victims into purchasing services or items that they had no desire or intentions to buy.

Utilities ‘officials’

Another common doorstep scam involves the perpetrator posing as a person from your gas or electricity provider but without official ID to prove it. Your gas or electricity provider will typically contact you to tell you of a visit beforehand and their workers will always provide official ID.

Fake charity workers

Be cautious of charity workers who have a pushy sales pitch and are unable to produce a registered charity number – they might not be who they say they are.

Unexpected deliveries

It can be hard to keep track of the goods your buy online, but if you receive an unexpected delivery of goods or products that you don’t remember ordering, it could be the sign of a scam.

This scam involves the scammer tricking you into believing you have ordered a product and service that you don’t recall, which might result in them asking for a service payment or entering your home to obtain your personal details.

Strangers in need

It’s easy to see the best in people, but that might not always be the best course of action. Some scammers pose as strangers in need of your help. They may ask to enter your home to use your phone to call a friend, family, or insurance company or simply to use your bathroom. Be wary of individuals that turn up at your front door unannounced. 

Older Person Using Security Chain On Door

How to protect yourself against doorstep scams

The key to avoiding doorstep scams is to remember that you don’t need to open the door to anyone you don’t know. If you choose to open your door to a stranger, always think: stop, lock, chain, and check.,

  • Stop – Are you expecting anyone?
  • Lock – If not, lock any other outer doors before answering the front doors. Some scammers work together.
  • Chain – Put the door chain on but remember to take it off again if people with a key, such as a carer or cleaner, need to enter. Also use your peep hole to see who’s at the door.
  • Check – Ask for ID and examine it carefully. If you’re still unsure, call the company the person is claiming to work for. Don’t worry about leaving someone waiting; if they’re who they say they are, they won’t mind. If you’re being pressured or feel unsafe, contact a friend, family, or the police.

Additional ways to protect yourself against doorstep scams

The above rules are the best ways to protect yourself against scammers, However, there are some additional precautions you can take to keep yourself safe, which include:

  • Never buy from door-to-door sellers.
  • Ask for a 'No cold callers' sign from your local council. Alternatively, get a printable version online and put it on the front door or in the window.
  • Set up a password with your utility providers to be used by anyone they send around, so you can be sure they're genuine.
  • Don't be embarrassed to say no or ask people to leave.
  • Never sign anything on the spot – take time to think about an offer, even if it seems legitimate. When it comes to home improvements, it's always best to get several written quotes before deciding.
  • Don't accept deliveries of anything you didn't order that's addressed to you. If you accept them without realising, contact the company they were sent from or the local police.
  • Never hand over your bank cards, cash, jewellery, or any other valuable items to anyone claiming to be from the police or your bank.
Woman Looking Concerned At Her Laptop

What to do if you are scammed on your doorstep?

If you sadly fall for one of these doorstep scams, there is support available to you:

Action Fraud: If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a scam, you can report it to Action Fraud either over the phone or on their website.

Citizens Advice: Contact them if you’ve been defrauded on your doorstep and they’ll pass your report onto Trading Standards.

You can also call 999 to speak to the police in an emergency, or 101 if you’re not in immediate danger.