Don’t fall prey to bogus callers or doorstep sellers


After a 43% increase in bogus caller crime over the last year, Hackney Council is urging residents to follow some simple steps to avoid falling prey to those who may trick or con their way into a home.

Not all burglars break into homes. Some will try and find a way in by pretending to be someone from an official organisation such as the Council or a utility company. They may claim to be a tradesperson calling to carry out urgent repairs.

Called ‘bogus callers’, these burglars succeed in gaining entry into a home because they are so believable, they dress, talk and act the part.

Mrs George, an elderly resident who lives in a Council property, opened her door to two males who said they were from the Council. The men said they were there to fix a water leak from a damaged pipe in the flat above. Once the two males entered her home, after not being asked to show their identification, one male took Mrs George to an area of the house where they said the leak was coming from, spraying water on the ceiling to make a leak look realistic. At the same time, the other male searched for cash and items of value in other rooms, stealing money that Mrs George had saved for shopping and to pay the utility bills. After leaving the property, Mrs George found that the money was missing and the emotional impact was devastating. She was scared to open her door to anyone who visited while feeling ashamed that she hadn’t asked for more details from those who knocked at her door.

The Council and police are encouraging residents to follow these simple steps that will help to identify a bogus caller from a genuine caller:

• Think before opening the door: use a chain, spy hole or look out the window to see if you recognise the caller. If in doubt, or if you feel anxious, don’t open the door. Treat every stranger with caution and if you are still worried, call 999 (for an emergency) or 101 (non-emergency).

• Ask for proof of identity: genuine tradesmen carry identification which includes a photograph and they won’t mind you checking their credentials. Check their identification carefully and if still unsure, close the door and phone the company that the person says they are from.

• Service companies for gas, water and electricity offer a password identification system: any caller from one of the companies should be able to provide a pre-arranged password as an added proof of identity. If the caller cannot provide a password, arrange an alternative visit with the utility provider.

• If you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don’t let them in: ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend, relative or nominated neighbour to be with you. You can also ask the caller to contact this person ahead of the visit. For more information on the Nominated Neighbour Scheme, please contact Hackney Council’s Safer Communities team by phoning: 020 8356 3170.

• Don’t be distracted by callers: sometimes bogus callers will claim they have seen something wrong in your back garden or somewhere else on the property to encourage you to leave your house. The caller may be working with an accomplice. Never leave your door open.

For more information and advice about bogus and doorstep callers, please visit the Met Police website or call Hackney Council’s Safer Communities team on: 020 8356 3170.