Are you just too polite? Thieves we invite into our homes
Everyone knows the basics of keeping their home safe from burglars – but what about the thieves you invite in? Every day we invite total strangers into our homes just because they ask to come in – and we run the risk of being conned and robbed by rogue traders and bogus callers.
Buckinghamshire Trading Standards knows of rip-offs to the tune of £500,000 over the past year – but that could be just the tip of the iceberg. This is how what to do when one shows up on your doorstep – and afterwards ring the police non-emergency number 101 and tell them about it.
“I’m from the Water Board/the Gas Board/the council, can I come in?”
When a stranger calls, first make sure your back door is locked – an accomplice could take advantage of the distraction at the front door to get in. Open the front door on the chain, take their ID card, close the door and phone the Water Board or whoever (get the number from the phone book, not them) and check that they have really sent someone round. These companies and their genuine representatives will expect this to happen and be happy to wait for you to check. Don’t let them in unless you are sure they are who they say they are.
“You’ve got some loose roof tiles/Your drive needs resurfacing”
Be wary of anyone calling at your home offering to do house or garden repairs. Do not let a cold caller hurry you into making a quick decision by saying it’s a special price for today. Do not let them strike up a conversation with you about other things and try to be a friend, and do not let them tell you that you will be letting them down if you do not agree to the work. Do not hand over a cash deposit, you pay a genuine business only when you are happy with the end result. Do not sign an agreement unless you can see it has the legal 7-day cooling-off clause when you can change your mind. If you do need work doing, get someone in yourself rather than allowing a cold caller to scare you into it – Trading Standards has a booklet with approved tradesmen in your area who you can trust to do a good job for a reasonable price.
If in doubt, keep them out! For more information on rogue traders and bogus callers call Trading Standards on 08454 04 05 06