Doorstep safety

Nuisance callers, sometimes known as ‘bogus callers’ or ‘distraction burglars’ are criminals who trick their way into people’s homes intending to steal money or property.

These people often work in teams of two or more and they usually target people who are elderly or vulnerable. Bogus callers will always seem very polite and plausible and will try many different ways to gain access to your home. They may call at your door to sell you goods or a service but use illegal selling techniques, for example by saying you need unnecessary repairs.

They may pose as a Council officer, workman from a utilities company (gas, water or electric) or even a Police Officer. Most official companies will send you an appointment letter, naming the person you should expect. You can ask gas, water or electricity companies for a unique password so that you can double-check the caller's identity. 

Never let a person into your home unless you are sure about their identity and that you want them in your home. If you are in any doubt about the person on your doorstep, do not let them into your home.

Top tips for dealing with doorstep callers:

  • Ask to see an identification card - ask them to pass the ID through the letter box before you open the door
  • Check the identification card thoroughly. If you are unsure, ask the caller to wait whilst you phone the company to check
  • Keep the door locked and closed whilst you make this phone call. Anyone who is genuine will not mind you doing this
  • Use a phone book or directories enquiries to find the phone number for the organisation this person is from. This is safer than using the phone number listed on the back of the identification card
  • If you are unsure, ask them to return at an agreed date and time when you have someone you know with you. Don’t let callers put pressure on you to let them in
  • Think about getting a 'We Do Not Buy at this Door' sticker, available at Operation Lockout events
  • Use the Nominated Neighbour Scheme
  • If you are suspicious, call the Police
  • Careline alarms or detectors in the home are a great way of getting help or reassurance in an emergency


How to report suspected bogus callers

You can contact Citizens Advice for advice about bogus callers or doorstep sellers. They will refer doorstep sellers to the local Trading Standards team if appropriate. 

Citizens Advice Consumer Service
Phone: 0345 404 0506

Further information and advice




Useful contacts:

Richmond Council Community Safety Team
Address: Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ
Phone: 020 8891 7777

If you have been threatened or think you have been stolen from, please report the incident to the Police by calling 999.