Home › Advice and Guidance › Safety › How to deal with unwanted callers

How to deal with unwanted callers

picture of a cold caller talking to an elderly lady

Three Step Plan
Unfortunately these days not everyone who calls at your door is who they seem to be - so you should always be on your guard. Follow the Three Step Plan:
1. If in doubt keep them out
It sounds simple, but if you don't let someone in - they will go away. Don't let them pressure you into opening the door.
2. Be prepared. Be in control
Think about what to say to doorstep cold callers in advance. And keep a list of key contact numbers near your phone so you can check out legitimate callers. Ask all other unwanted callers to go away.
3. Call a neighbour or the police
Contact a local relative or nominated neighbour who can help verify a cold caller. If you think someone is a rogue trader call us on 101. To report a distraction burglar or rogue trader who has taken your money and is still in the area - call 999.

Dealing with rogue traders

Who are they?
They are often pushy salespeople or traders offering cut price home improvement services or other products. They are always charming and very believable. They are also very difficult to get rid of if they get through your door. They charge a small fortune for poor quality work, unnecessary repairs or cheap goods such as double glazing or energy efficiency products.
What tricks do they use?
They sometimes offer to tarmac your drive, work on your garden, repair your roof or clean your gutters for a low price. They may say that your house needs urgent repairs. They may say they are only in the area for a short time. They may say that they have done work for your neighbour. They may also offer you unbelievable discounts.
They then demand large amounts of cash as the job turns out be bigger than they thought. Some ask for cash up front and are never seen again. Others will insist on driving people to their bank to pressure them into withdrawing their savings. Whatever they say - don't believe them.
What should you do?
Follow our Three Step Plan. Keep your door closed. Tell them to go away. Call us on 101 and give a description of them and their vehicle. If they don't leave your doorstep or return after you've asked them to leave, they are breaking the law - and we can arrest them.
Top tips
1. Install an intercom or spy hole for extra security.
2. Never agree to have work done or part with money on your doorstep.
3. Always get written quotes from at least two traders for any work.
4. You have seven days to cancel any purchase over £35 that you make in your home.  If someone won't give you written notice telling you how and to whom you must give your cancellation - they commit a criminal offence.

Always agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates in writing before any work starts on your home.
Don't pay in full until you're completely satisfied with the work.
Keep your home and belongings safe during works.
If you think you've been cheated, are concerned about a trader or have any doubts call 101 or Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 040506. A Welsh speaking advisor is available on 08454 040505.
Call your local council or Neighbourhood Policing Team for advice and free services that will enhance your home security.

Dealing with distraction burglars

Who are they?
These people can be of any age and background, male or female and  will use a range of excuses to distract you, catch you off guard and trick their way into your home.
What tricks do they use?
Some will seem very innocent and ask you for a glass of water or to use your phone, before finding another excuse to search your house for valuables. Others will pose as bogus officials, claiming to be a health carer, market researcher or from the council, police or a utility company such as the Gas or Water board. Either way, they will play on your good nature and be very convincing.
What should you do?
Remember the Three Step Plan! Keep your door closed. Tell them to go away. Call us on 101 and give a description of them and their vehicle.

Other measures you can take
Genuine callers won't mind waiting outside on your doorstep while you check out their credentials.
• Look before you answer the door - Glance through a window or spy hole to see who it is and if they have a recognisable vehicle.

• Identity cards - These can be faked, so if you're not expecting anyone, call their organisation to check.

• Contact numbers - they may have an accomplice on the other end of the number they give you, particularly if it's a mobile number.  So, call the organisation directly to make sure they are who they say they are.

• Passwords - Make things easier and set these up in advance with your gas, water and electricity suppliers.

• Nominated Neighbour Poster - Direct the caller to a safe window and show them your poster from this booklet.

Planning in advance
Nominate a Neighbour
Ask a trusted neighbour or a family member who lives nearby to help check out the identity of cold callers. 
Download our Nominate a Neighbour poster (to follow as a separate document) and write their address on it.
DO NOT display the poster in your window or open your door to give it to someone on your doorstep. Simply hold the poster up at a window or post it through your letterbox, so they can visit your nominated neighbour.
Call your neighbour on the phone to let them know someone is coming around and get confirmation before letting them in. If you cannot contact your nominated neighbour, you can call your local police on 101 or Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 040506. A Welsh speaking advisor is available on 08454 040505.
Password scheme
Many gas, water and electricity companies run a password scheme - so you can set up a memorable word that is only known to you and them. If they know the password you can safely let them in. Contact your local utility suppliers and remember not to tell anyone else your password.
Callers with an appointment
If you're expecting a caller at a specific time, ask your nominated neighbour to be with you so they can check their authenticity.
Unwanted mail and telephone calls

If you are receiving unwanted mail or telephone calls, here are some useful numbers to help put a stop to them (insert download from Sugar 994 - bilingual).

Protecting yourself against fraud

Although fraud comes in many forms, there are some steps that you can take to protect yourself:
1. Destroy / shred any documents containing any personal or bank details, for example receipts or letters with your name and address.
2. Do not respond to 'phishing e-mails', for example e-mails that say they are from banks, and asking to confirm your details. Banks do not send e-mails like these.
3. Don't give out personal details over the phone to someone who has phoned you to say you have won a prize, or via letter or e-mail. If it seems too good to be true - it probably is.
4. Always be sure that you know who you are talking to.
5. Always check through your bank statements as soon as they arrive.

For more information, please visit the Action Fraud website:
Protect Yourself: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/support-and-prevention/protect-yourself-from-fraud
Current Scams: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news
Reporting Fraud: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud