Doorstep safety

Bogus callers

Bogus callers, sometimes known as distraction burglers, are people who trick their way into people's homes with the intention of stealing 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 often pretend to be on official business, masquerading as Council officials, workmen from utilities companies (gas, water or electricity) or even Police officers.

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.


  • Use the door chain or door bar when answering your door. If possible, fit a door viewer and an outside light
  • Ask to see the caller's identity card and check it thoroughly. If you feel unsure, ask the caller to wait on the doorstep while you phone the company to check
  • Lock the door whilst you go and phone. Don't open the door until you are absolutely sure. Anyone who is genuine will not mind you doing this
  • Ask them to return at an agreed day and time when you have someone with you. Don't let callers put pressure on you to let them in
  • If in doubt - keep them out
  • If you are suspicious - call the Police

You can always ask the caller to come back at an agreed time and day when you can have someone with you.

Rogue traders

People claiming to be workmen may try to carry out unnecessary work on your house or garden and can be very persistent and convincing. Never agree to allow someone who has called unexpectedly to carry out work for you. If someone calls at your house offering to do some work for you, tell them that you will get some quotes from other companies and get back to them.

Always use a reputable company. If you don't know companies locally, Swindon is part of a national 'Buy with Confidence' scheme that will help you to identify Trading Standards approved tradesmen in your area. For more information visit the Buy with Confidence website.

Never part with money - don't do business on the doorstep. If you didn't ask them to call, don't agree to them doing any work

Further information

More general advice can be obtained from Swindon Citizens Advice who can be contacted on 0808 278 7813, or from Trading Standards on 01793 466155.