Guidance for dealing with doorstep callers
Everyone has a right to feel safe in their own homes. Follow these simple steps before letting anyone you don't know into your home:
- Lock the back door before answering the front door. Bogus callers often work in pairs; while one distracts the homeowner at the front door, the other goes around the back.
- Always ask to see ID. Check the photo on the identity card against the person at your door.
- If they do not hold any ID, do not let them in.
- If it is not a pre-arranged visit and you are unsure about the caller, ask them to return at a suitable date and time when you have someone with you.
- If you are still unsure about the caller, contact the appropriate number for assistance.
The authenticity of people who say they are from the utility services can be checked.
- Mid Kent Water (water only) 0845 850 6060
- Southern Water (sewerage) 0845 278 0845
- Gas Transco 0800 111 999
- EDF Energy (gas & electric) 0800 096 2270
The Citizens Advice consumer service took over responsibility for providing consumer advice and information from Consumer Direct on 1 April 2012.
The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/consumer_e.htm or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.
Information collected by the consumer service is shared with the OFT and other enforcement partners, including Local Authority Trading Standards Services.
You can report any person offering to carry out any work/repairs to your property by contacting:
Kent Report Line: 0845 345 0210 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm).
National Doorstep Cold Calling Protocol
Although criminals may use cold calling as a way of identifying potential victims, cold calling is not of itself a criminal offence. Trading Standards have therefore drawn up a protocol whereby legitimate organisations may call on people without an appointment.
- Where possible representatives will have previously notified appointments. On the occasions where this is not possible the following procedure will be observed:
- The representative will physically hand their identification card to the householder and declare their name and organisation.
- They will request that the householder compares their face with the photograph on the card and explain that they will not enter until the householder does so.
- The representative will carry a larger identification card for examination by persons with sight difficulties. This card will bear print of at least size/font 14 and enlarged photograph.
- The representative will explain the purpose of his/her visit.
- The representative will explain that the householder can check their identification by telephoning their organisation and that they can arrange for attendance of a third party e.g. neighbour if they wish.
- The representative will make it clear that they will not enter the house unless the householder is happy for them to do so.
- The representative will always be happy to return at a later pre-arranged date/time if the householder requests. The organisation will provide a landline telephone number, preferably free phone, to facilitate employee bona fide checks. This telephone number must be a direct line to a person/people and not utilise automated call management systems. Where possible this number should also be listed in the public telephone directory and other company advertising material.
Cold Calling Control Zones
The first Cold Calling Control Zone (CCCZ) in Kent was launched in Cranbrook on Friday 3 March 2008 by Tunbridge Wells Community Safety Partnership. The scheme is designed to reduce the likelihood of residents, particularly older and vulnerable people, becoming victims of distraction burglars and rogue traders.
The setting up of a CCCZ is a major project. How a scheme is implemented:
- Initiation is by Neighbourhood Watch (NhW) or the CSU, for proposal to the Executive Committee (ExCo) of West Kent Neighbourhood Watch Association (WKNWA).
- If ExCo (of WKNWA) agrees for it to be looked at, it will be passed to the police who will examine the road or area for a history of distraction burglaries, and to to see if the area is categorised as (A) having a high proportion of occupants who are over a certain age, and (B) earning or living below a specific level of income.
- The area has to be a certified NhW Scheme, or one will have to be established if it does not already exist.
If a location meets both criteria in 2 (above), the proposal goes to the CSU for a discussion between NhW, Police, Kent Trading Standards, and possibly with Kent County Council Community Wardens, for agreement.
If all agree, a CCCZ can be set up. The scheme will be managed by NhW, usually controlled by the District Representative. Coordinator(s) have to be found, letters written and delivered to residents, along with leaflets, stickers etc. Utility companies written to, usually a launch meeting, notices procured, sited and erected. Costs will be borne by the CSU.
For further details about NhW Cold Calling Control Zones initiative please contact Peter Rolington by email or visit his website (address below).