‘Bogus caller’ is a term used to describe people who pretend to be someone else, usually in order to steal. They will be attempting to gain entry to the premises to steal, often working in pairs, with one person distracting the homeowner while the other gains entry to the property. They often arrive unannounced and utilise different guises to trick people into gaining entry or paying for a service.
- 'Officials' may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, a utilities company, health authority or other organisation.
- 'Dealers' may offer to buy antiques, furniture or jewellery.
- A 'labourer / worker' may say that they need to enter the house to check something or make urgent repairs.
Always ask the caller for their identification and check it, before letting them in. You could utilise a safety chain on the door or other door safety mechanism in order to check the identity without allowing them access. You can also phone the company to verify their identity. Make sure that you check the number yourself, rather than using a number that they give you, as this may be false and be answered by someone working with them. A genuine caller will be happy to wait outside whilst you check their credentials. If you are in any doubt, do not let the caller in.
Some utilities companies have password schemes, so you can check the identity of the caller before opening the door. This works by the caller quoting a password chosen by you to prove they are a genuine caller. You can contact your supplier to find out if they provide this service.
Bogus callers also use the telephone as a means of contacting people. These types of bogus callers may contact you and pretend to be from an organisation or company you trust such as a bank, requesting payment or account details. If you are in any doubt about a call you have received, do not reveal any personal details or account information, hang up the call and contact the organisation or company to check the call was genuine.
If you think you have had a bogus caller at your home, you can report this to Police who will investigate.
If you have think you have been the victim of a telephone scam you can report this to the Police or Action Fraud.
These people may use pressure tactics to persuade homeowners to have unnecessary work done or to purchase goods. The rogue traders will often have no experience or training and will carry out poor quality work or sell sub-standard goods for large amounts of money and usually ask for payment in cash.
Here are some top tips to avoid becoming victim to a rogue trader:
- Install a door chain or spy hole so you can communicate with callers without allowing access.
- Never agree to have work done by somebody who is just passing or take their word that it needs to be done at all.
- Never agree to have work done or part with any money on your doorstep.
- Always get at least 2 written quotes from traders for any work.
- Always agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates in writing before any work starts on your home. You could also ask to see a copy of their public liability insurance certificate.
- Ask friends and relatives for a recommendation or check a trusted website for details of local tradesmen in your area. You can also conduct some research on the internet to check for reviews of businesses and tradesmen.
- You can report rogue traders to the Police on 101. If you feel threatened or the situation is an emergency, call 999.
For complaints about goods and services you can contact Trading Standards. The Citizens Advice provide free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Please see the links in Related Information for details.