Scams and doorstep crime

What is doorstep crime?

Many scams don’t involve face-to-face contact, but sometimes the conmen come to your door. They could be pretending to be from the water board, power company and even the police. Some might claim they just happen to be working nearby, and have spotted a small problem with the house that can be easily fixed. They then often say they’ve found more problems, and the final bill can be enormous.

Our work in this area is partly coordinated by London Trading Standards, who give guidance on spotting these rogues and keeping safe from them. It’s your home - with the right precautions, you can keep it safe.

What is a scam

Scams are schemes designed to cheat you out of your money. There are a range of scams that can target consumers and businesses, at home or work, and come in the form of a letter, email, telephone call, or a text message.

You can be targeted:

  • through the post: with offers of prize draws, claims you have won a lottery and false invoices
  • over the phone: with advertising schemes and offers to reduce tax
  • through your computer: with viruses or false offers to remove viruses that don't exist
  • by being offered loans by fake lenders, who ask you to pay fees up front via Western Union or similar
  • by being misled when buying goods on the internet
  • through fake sites or by selling fake goods.

Check out the Metropolitan Police Little Book of Big Scams (pdf 2MB) for more information.

Recognising scams

There are so many different types of scam, it is difficult to list them all. If you think you have been targeted by a scam ask yourself these questions:

  • was the offer unsolicited?
  • does it look too good to be true?
  • do I have to send money up front? 
  • do I have to respond immediately?
  • do I have to make a purchase to win a prize?
  • do I have to ring a premium rate phone number? 
  • do I have to give my bank or credit card details?
  • do I have to send the money to a PO Box number? 
  • do I have to send money by bank transfer? 
  • am I asked to keep it confidential?

If the answer to any of these questions is ye', you may be the target of a scam. The chances are that once you have sent money, you’ll never see it again.

Reporting scams

Call Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 to report scams and receive advice. 

You can also report scams on the Action Fraud website, which has lots more information on popular scams.

Avoiding scams

  • Register with the Mailing Preference Service online to cut down on unwanted direct mail that is addressed to you, or call 020 7291 3310.
  • The Royal Mail has an opt out scheme allowing you to choose not to have materials, such as letters addressed to 'The Occupier', put through the door. 
  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service online to cut down on unwanted phone calls, texts and SMS messages, or call 0345 070 0707.
  • Forward spam texts to your mobile provider – 7726 for Everything Everywhere (O2 and Orange), 37726 for Three, 87726 for Vodafone.

Protect yourself against identity fraud

  • Shred documents with your name, address or financial details.
  • If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank or building society asking for your security details, never reveal your full password, login details or account numbers. Most banks will not approach their customers in this manner.
  • If you are concerned about the source of a call, hang up and call your bank, or whoever is supposedly calling you, on a legitimate number printed on your bank statements or other documents.
  • Check statements carefully and report anything suspicious.
  • If an expected statement and it doesn’t arrive, tell your bank.
  • If you move house, always get Royal Mail to redirect your post.
  • Notify your bank immediately of any unusual activity on your account.

For more advice about online safety visit getsafeonline.

More information

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