How to protect yourself from doorstep scams

Scammers commonly target older people for doorstep scams. In fact, over half of people aged 65 and over believe they've been the target of some kind of doorstep fraud, with more than a third saying they've lost £1,000 or more to a trickster.

Figures gathered by elderly charity Age UK show that door-to-door visits from bogus tradesmen occur over 5,500 times a year in England and Wales.

How people are being targeted

In doorstep fraud, residents are pressured into paying for emergency repairs or routine maintenance which the tradesman believes is necessary on the home. This then often leads to shoddy work being carried out, often charged at extortionate rates, or even no work at all. Confident con-men may lie about their membership of a trade organisation to convince the homeowner that they’re authentic and that the job is genuinely required.

How you can stay safe

Door-to-door sales is still common practice in many industries, whether it's charity collection or patio paving. You have no obligation to receive them at the door, but if you choose to, then these tips from Action Fraud should be kept in mind:

  • Ask the tradesperson for identification before letting them into your house.
  • Check their credentials, including a permanent business address and landline telephone number. With these, you can easily research the company online to see if they’re legitimate. Elderly homeowners who are not computer-literate should ask a friend or family member, or can contact Age UK's free advice line on 0800 1692081
  • If you feel particularly suspicious, ask the tradesperson if you can take their photograph, providing you have a capable mobile phone to hand. If the tradesperson is legitimate, they shouldn’t mind being photographed.
  • While these tips are great for dealing with door-to-door selling, one of the biggest assurances that elderly homeowners can have in place is a home emergency cover policy to deal with emergency repairs around many areas of the home, such a boiler & heating and roofing repairs, and pest infestations.
  • For more money-saving tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine.