Advice for the elderly to protect themselves from doorstep scams

We recently wrote a small guide for the elderly with advice on avoiding scams and fraudsters who might call, text or email, but we also wanted to share our top tips for avoiding doorstep scammers, as 85% of victims of doorsteps scams are aged 65 plus, according to National Trading Standards.

There are many credible tradespeople and officials knocking on members of the public’s front doors but it is always wise to be on guard and if they are official, they will completely understand people being wary and will have official documentation and ID to prove who they are.

Join utility company password schemes

Many utility companies now offer a password protection scheme for the elderly and vulnerable. You can set up a password/memorable word with them that the visitor from the company will be able to say to you on their arrival, so you know they are genuine.

Nominate a neighbour

If it’s possible, it’s a good idea to ask a neighbour to look out for you. You can grant them permission to approach anyone they don’t recognise as friends or family members who might be at your door and find out who they are on your behalf. However, neighbours may not be around at all times of the day, so it’s best to make sure other precautions are in place too.

Make sure your front door is secure

You or your elderly loved-one should not open the front door straight away to someone you don’t recognise. Instead, install a spyhole, so you can see the person before answering. Alternatively, you can look through a window or speak through the letterbox to ask who they are.

You should always make sure a safety chain is pulled across, so if you really do need to open the door, it can only be opened slightly.

Always ask for ID

If you don’t recognise the person at the door, immediately ask for ID and check it carefully. Read it and don’t be put off from doing this. You can even call the company they represent for reassurance.

Often people will pose as a charity worker, however legitimate charities must be registered with the Charity Commission and their details should be displayed on collection bags and envelopes.

Always remember you should never sign contracts or hand over money or bank details on the doorstep. There is no shame in asking someone to come back another time when someone will be with you if you’re unsure of their credentials.