Help & advice Personal safety Bogus callers An honest face or a good story can hide a trick to get in to your home. Never let someone into your house because you don’t want to seem rude or unsympathetic Consider fitting a door chain and spy-hole on your front door; outside lighting can also help you identify callers. Never let anyone into your home unless you are satisfied about who they are and what they want. Public service employees are required to show identity cards when they come to your home. Examine the card carefully as fake cards have been used. The card should have a photograph and the name of the organisation. If you are at all worried, ring the organisation to check the caller is genuine. Use the telephone number given in the phone book or on your utility bill, rather than the one printed on the identity card. A genuine worker won’t mind waiting. Most energy companies give you the option to submit readings by phone and online, and this could be used to avoid the above situation. If you need to have your meters checked but have difficulty reading identity cards, ring the number given on your bills and ask if they operate a free password scheme. This would mean that when a meter reader called they would identify themselves by the password you have given. Be wary of employing trades people who come to the door offering bargain prices for work they say you need doing to your house. If you need building work doing, it is usually best to ask for several written quotes from trustworthy and established firms. If you have a back door, make sure it is locked before answering the front door. Some thieves work in pairs and one will keep victims talking at the front door while the other tries to enter by the back door. Your local council may provide a community alarm scheme for elderly or disabled people. Ask at your local police station or council offices. If you are at all nervous, you could ask whoever is at the door to come back at an appointed time and arrange to have someone with you. Answering the phone Try not to answer the phone with your address or telephone number. If the caller is not known to you, then avoid answering questions about yourself, no matter how innocent they sound. If you have an answer machine, consider carefully before including your name or number in the message. The message should never tell people that you are out or away. Try and give the impression that you are only temporarily unable to answer. If you are listed in the phone directory, you might want to give your initials and surname rather than your full name. Dealing with malicious or nuisance calls Try to keep calm and hang up without responding. If the phone rings again, don’t say anything when you answer. Normal callers will identify themselves and if it is the malicious caller you can hang up again. Make a note of the time and nature of calls and, if the problem persists or you are worried, inform the police and your telephone provider.