How To Deal 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. Here are 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 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 can arrange for one to be fitted. 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 Boards
Major suppliers of services often have special schemes in place to protect older or less able people, from false representatives. Contact your supplier for details.
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 AND 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 mailshot 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
Email: email@example.com www.mpsonline.org.uk
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.
Isle of Wight Trading Standards
Isle of Wight
Opening Times: Monday - Thursday 8.30am - 5.00pm, Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm
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.