Dealing with uninvited callers to your home
From time to time, alarming stories about “bogus callers” appear in the media. These can be very unsettling, especially when living alone. This information sheet gives some ideas about how to deal with uninvited callers, how to remain confident and feel safe.
An uninvited doorstep caller is any person you do not know and were not expecting. Do not be fooled by appearances. It may be a well dressed man selling a product or perhaps a woman whose car has broken down, even a person in uniform may not be what they seem. Although these people are probably genuine callers it is not a good idea to allow them into your home.
If a person asks to use the telephone, advise that you can’t let them in but will be happy to make a call on their behalf, if they are sincere they will appreciate your caution and be happy to wait outside.
Use the door chain whenever you answer the door. If you do not have a chain you can arrange for one to be fitted. For more information contact Help & Care on 0300 111 3303. Help & Care fact sheet Home Safety may also be useful to you.
If you feel any cause for alarm, remember that you do not need to answer the door at all! Do not leave the chain on all the time as this will slow you down if you need to escape in the event of a fire.
This is when a company sends a salesperson door to door in the hope that you will be interested in their product. Most people who call door to door are selling a genuine product.
If you are interested in what they are selling take a card and call the office for an appointment. Don’t agree to buy anything, or sign any paperwork unless you are sure that you wish to buy the product. A genuine company will be happy to give you time to reflect and to provide a written quotation. There is no obligation to let anyone into your home. If you don’t want the product say so clearly and without hesitation.
Callers from the gas, electricity or water utility companies
Major suppliers of services often have special schemes in place to protect older or less able people, from false representatives. Contact you supplier for details. Help & Care fact sheet No. 15 – How to make a complaint, may also be useful call 0300 111 3303 to
request a copy.
If a worker calls to read your meter or to fix a fault that you are unaware of, ask them for their identification before allowing them into your home. Check the card carefully. If you are not sure about it take the card inside and call the company concerned. It would be advisable to check the number on the card in the telephone directory or with Directory Enquiries (tel: 118 118) to ensure that the number is a genuine organisation. If you are satisfied with the authenticity, telephone and ask the organisation if they have sent anyone to your house, and for that person’s name. If they have not sent anyone, ask them if there could be any other company working in your area. If it still appears that the person is not a genuine caller, ask them to leave and call the police to alert them. It does not matter if it turns out to be a false alarm.
What if the caller won’t go away or I feel threatened?
Never feel pressured into paying for something that you do not want. If the caller will not leave, try telling them that you are busy now but will call them back. Do not sign anything in the hope that they will leave.
If you are concerned for your personal safety dial 999 and ask for the police. Most importantly remember to put your own safety first. In the unlikely event of a bogus trader forcing their way into your home, do not try to remove them or to protect your belongings. Leave the house immediately and call for help from the neighbours.
Unwanted mail or telephone calls
A wide variety of companies telephone people at home, promoting their products, or asking when it would be convenient for a representative to visit.
If you wish to reduce these unsolicited calls, you can register your telephone number with ‘The Telephone Preference Service’. This service, which is offered free of charge, will reduce the number of unwanted calls that you receive. To register contact:
Registration Line – 0845 070 0707
Or write to:
Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
70 Margaret Street
Tel: 02072 913300
A direct mail shot is a personally addressed communication to a home or office address. For many companies this is a valuable way to advertise their business. You may find the information sent to you helpful, and if you are not interested you can throw it away.
If you wish to avoid being sent the information you can register with ‘The Mailing Preference Service’. Once your application has been processed your name will be removed from 90% of all mailing lists. Remember that this will only stop personally addressed advertising and not circulars delivered door-to-door or newspaper inserts.
For more information or a registration form contact:
Registration Line: 0845 703 4599
MPS – Mailing Preference Service
70 Margaret Street
Admin tel: 02072 913310
If you feel that a company has exerted unnecessary pressure or has threatened you in any way, you can report them to your local Trading Standards Office. They will investigate the complaint and will act if they feel that an offence has been committed.
Dorset County Council
Tel: 01305 (01202) 224012
Fax: 01305 (01202) 224297
Line open: Monday – Thursday 8.40am – 5.20pm, Friday: 8.40am – 4pm.
Nuisance telephone calls
These can be very distressing but try not to react. Do not give them the satisfaction of upsetting you or making you angry. The best way to deal with them is to lay the handset down beside the telephone and go and do something else for a while. Let them say what they want, they will soon realise you are not listening. After a while return to the phone and gently put the receiver down without checking to see if they are still there. Do not get into conversation with the caller, if they call back after you have replaced the receiver don’t speak first but remain totally silent.
A genuine new caller will speak as soon as you pick up the phone. If the nuisance calls are persistent or you feel threatened call the Nuisance Call Advice Line operated by BT on: 0800 661 441 (other networks have their own numbers, check with your telephone suppliers details). You could also ask your telephone supplier about their call minding services and setting your phone to display when known friends and family are calling. Then when any other call is displayed on your handset you can decide whether or not to answer it.
Help & Care Handiworks Plus (available to residents of Bournemouth, Poole, East Dorset, Christchurch and Purbeck)
Handiworks Plus is available to anyone over the age of 18 living in the Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, East Dorset and Purbeck areas. Members of Handiworks Plus can call one number 0300 111 3303 and report any repairs or household maintenance issues and we will arrange for an appropriate police checked tradesperson who is skilled in their trade to carry out the work required. The Handiworks Team provide experienced, competitively priced trades people and will arrange all works on your behalf. The contractual relationship for each job is between you (the Handiworks Plus member) and the tradesperson. Handiworks Plus is a social enterprise; this means that 100% of any profits from the service provided by Handiworks Plus will fund Help and Care’s charitable work. Membership of Handiworks Plus costs £30 a year.
The services available include:
• General Handyman – small building works and maintenance build flat pack furniture, fit draught proofing, put up curtain rails/blinds, moving furniture within the home, hanging mirrors and pictures, clearing gutters.
• Electrical – rectifying loss of light or power, installing and repairing sockets and lights, fixing/replacing doorbells, installing outside security lights, installing power to new areas.
• Carpentry – Door and window repairs, door furniture fitting and repairs, shelves fitted, skirting and architrave installation, repairs to sheds, fence and gate installation or repair.
• Plumbing - Tap repairs and replacement, bath and sink traps unblocked, internal leaks fixed, WC flushing faults rectified, radiators bled, baths and sinks sealed, washing machines and dishwashers plumbed in.
• Security and Safety – Window and door locks, spy holes and door chains fitted, smoke detectors, supply and fit key safes
• Gardening – Weeding, mowing lawns, planting flowers and shrubs, trimming hedges, pruning.
• Gas and central heating – rectifying loss of heating, rectifying loss of hot water, repair faulty radiator valves, installation of boilers, gas cookers and fires, servicing boilers and gas fires.
• Painting and decorating – internal and external painting, wallpapering, woodwork painting/staining, tiling, small areas of plastering.
• Flooring – carpet and vinyl fitted, laminate and ceramic floor tiles laid.
Carelines or emergency telephone alarms
Carelines exist to enable older people, disabled and other vulnerable parties to lead independent lives in their own homes. Carelines can provide peace of mind to both the client and their families, in the knowledge that there is someone to contact in an emergency 24 hours a day. If you would like details of carelines available in your area contact Help & Care on 0300 111 3303.
Other useful information
Citizens Advice Bureau
The Citizens Advice Bureau aims to:
• Provide the advice people need for the problems they face
• To improve the policies and practices that affect peoples lives
The service provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. For further information contact your local office on the contact telephone number below:
Christchurch – 01202 482023
Ferndown – 01202 893838
Wimborne – 01202 884738
Wessex Energy Advice Centre
8 Park Place
65 North Road
Tel: 01202 209410
For advice about energy efficiency, insulation and heating grants.
Victim Support Dorset
Unit A19 Arena Business Centre
Tel: 01202 606200
Fax: 01202 606201
National Victim Supportline: 0845 30 30 900
Victim Support is the national independent charity for people affected by crime – victims and witnesses, their families and friends – we are here to help. Trained staff and volunteers offer free and confidential information, support and practical help following a crime, such as burglary, assault, harassment, domestic violence, rape and murder. Victim Support can offer:
• Someone to talk to in confidence
• Emotional support and practical help
• Information on the police, court procedures and criminal justice system
• Support and information while attending court
• Help with criminal injuries compensation and insurance claims
• Contact with – and referral to – other relevant organisations
• Advice on crime prevention
• Help with housing or benefit problems