Doorstep security is about protecting yourself against people calling to your door with criminal or abusive intentions. ‘Bogus callers’, ‘rogue traders’ or ‘distraction burglars’ can be male, female, old or young, and may come individually or in a group. By taking simple measures and being cautious at your doorstep, you can help to protect yourself against those few people whose motives are to overcharge you, convince you that you need a service that you don’t need, or even to steal your money or valuables.
Here are some guidelines on doorstep security for older people to keep in mind so that you can protect yourself on your doorstep:
- Keep control. Always remember that you have the right to say you are not interested in a service or product being offered, or to refuse entry to someone or to ask someone to leave. You should never feel afraid or embarrassed to do any of these things. If the caller will not easily take no for any answer, don’t hesitate to call the Gardaí.
- Be cautious. Always be cautious about people not known to you calling to your home. Legitimate callers such as officials from your gas or electricity company or a charity fundraiser will always present an identification card giving their name and details. Even children or teenagers seeking sponsorship for their local sports club should have identification or a bona fide sponsorship card.
- Don’t rush into a decision on the spot. Take your time to decide whether the product or service, and the terms offered, are right for you. Don’t fall for the line that the tradesman is only in the area for that day only. If you are not sure about your caller’s intentions, the safest course of action is to keep them out.
- Ask around before buying. If you are contacted with what seems like a good deal, don’t be afraid to seek advice before making a decision to buy or invest. Ask your family and friends what they think. Or ask a tradesperson for contact details of previous satisfied customers that you can speak to.
Here are some more useful tips to help keep you safe from bogus callers:
- Do not engage with doorstep traders or callers that you do not know
- Ask traders for their contact details including their V.A.T registered number
- Put up a notice to say that you do not buy on the doorstep and place a ‘no cold callers’ sign on your door
- Never sign anything at the door
- Never give out any personal details at the door, such as, bank account information, credit or debit card numbers, PIN numbers or passwords, social welfare number and so on
- Only chain your front door when you are planning to open it. Keeping a chain on all the time may prevent services from entering in an emergency
- It is a good idea to invest in sensor lights for your house, front and back
- Keep a list of emergency numbers close to hand or stored in your mobile phone so that you can access them easily and quickly. Useful numbers include the Gardaí, medical or fire service, family, friends or neighbours.