Protect yourself against bogus or unknown callers
Most people who call to your home will be genuine. However there are some who may not be. These people are ‘bogus callers’ or ‘distraction burglars’ who may want to trick their way into your home to steal.
Bogus callers could pretend to be police officers, council or social workers, or tell you that they work for a company like NI Water (the Water Service) or PowerNI (previously NIE).
There are some easy steps you can take to protect yourself against bogus callers:
- if you’re not expecting a caller, look out the window and see if you recognise them
- make sure your back door is locked before you answer the front door
- if you have a door chain or door bar, remember to use it before you open the front door
- ask the caller for their identification and check it carefully
- ask them to wait outside and close the door while you check - genuine callers will not mind
- use Quick Check to check with the company (find out more at checking identification below)
- do not let anyone into your home until you are sure they are genuine
- if you are not happy, ask them to call back when you have company
If at any point you feel unsure or scared, you should contact the police.
- 101 (non-emergency) or 999 in an emergency
- Police Service of Northern Ireland
Quick check is a free telephone service that you can call to check that the person at your door is who they say they are. It is available to Northern Ireland residents 24 hours a day, all year round.
Your call will be answered by a trained operator who will be able to check with the company, that the person at your door works for them. If they don’t work for the company or they think there is something suspicious, Quick check will contact the police immediately on your behalf.
- Freephone 0800 013 2290
Older people at home
If you’re an older person, there are some simple things you can do to help you feel more secure:
- join a monitored telephone scheme - you can call for help by pressing a button if you trip or fall at home, but also if you feel scared or nervous about someone at your door
- sign up to customer care registers
- don’t keep large sums of cash at home - use a bank account instead
- talk to the police, local council and voluntary groups in your area - they may have schemes to assist older people with home security and general maintenance
- keep a list of useful numbers by your telephone or saved on your mobile phone - include numbers for your family, the police, and your local council
Most Northern Ireland utility providers, like gas, water and electricity suppliers, have a register for older or vulnerable customers, which will usually include a password scheme. This means if a person comes to your door from that company they will be able to give you the password you have agreed. Find out more about customer care registers at the links below.
- NI Water Customer Care Register - NI Water website
- Customer Care Register - Power NI website
- Are you signed up to a care register – Age UK website
If you have door security, like chains or bars, use them every time you answer the door, but especially when it’s dark.
Some councils and community organisations run home security schemes to help people feel safer in their homes. Contact your local council for information on schemes in your area.
Reporting a bogus caller
If you are a victim of a bogus caller or a distraction burglary call the police. In an emergency dial 999 and for non emergency and general enquires dial 101. If you are a Tesco mobile or giffgaff user call 028 9065 0222.
If you know someone who is carrying out this type of crime you can ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.