** NB ** Older people are less likely than any other
age group to be victims of crime. But there is one
type of criminal that target older people: bogus callers.
Also known as distraction burglars, they trick their way into
people’s homes to steal money and valuables while the
householder’s attention is elsewhere.
Most callers are genuine and mean you no harm but bogus callers
can often seem very plausible and will try to fool you.
Follow Age Scotland's advice and keep yourself safe and secure
at your door.
All electricity‚ gas and water companies have a doorstep
If you haven’t already done so‚ set up a password
with each of them, choosing passwords that are unique and
that you will remember. When a representative calls they will
give you this unique password to confirm they are legitimate.
Keep the passwords out of sight but where you can easily find
– if you need to fetch it‚ close the door first.
If you print out this page or the corresponding booklet, there
is space to write down the contact numbers and passwords.
Safety and security in your home
Use a door chain and‚ if you can‚ a spy hole.
This makes it easier for you to identify who is at the door
without fully opening it.
If you do not currently have a chain or spy hole, arrange
to have them fitted. Call the Age Scotland Helpline on 0845
125 9732 to find out who can do this in your area.
Valuables and money
Do not keep large amounts of money in the house. It is safer
in a bank or building society account. Do not leave money
lying around where it is visible from outside or where it
can be easily found.
Do not leave valuable items in view or where they can be
easily found. Items of sentimental value‚ such as jewellery‚
may also be those that most appeal to burglars. It may be
worth getting a small safe for your home.
What to do when someone calls
Before you go to the door: Close and lock the back
door and any accessible windows before you go to the front
Bogus callers often work in pairs. One of them will try to
keep you talking at the front door while the other tries to
get in through the back door or a window.
Look through your spy hole or window
Try to check who a caller is before opening the door. Don’t
let any caller pressure you into making a quick decision -
if you are unsure‚ do not open the door.
Put your door chain on
Before you answer the door, put your door chain on and keep
it on while you check the callers’ identity.
If you want to check with their company, keep the door chain
on‚ tell the caller you are going to call their company
and close the door.
Check the caller is who they say they are
A genuine caller will not object to you leaving them on the
doorstep and closing the door while you confirm their identity‚
even if it is raining.
If the caller says they represent an electricity‚ gas
or water company or another organisation such as the council
or a charity, follow the checklist below to check that a caller
is who they say they are.
Ask for the password
If you have set one up with the company, use it.
Does the caller have an identification card?
If the caller does not have identification card‚ ask
the caller to go away and close the door. If the caller persists‚
dial 999 and ask for the police.
If the caller does have an identification card, ask to see
• Examine the card to see if it looks genuine
• Check the expiry date - is it still valid?
• Does the photograph on the card match the person at
• Check the photograph is the original – has anything
been stuck over it?
• If you want to call their company, do not use the
telephone number on the caller’s identification card
- if the identification card is not genuine then the telephone
number on the card will not be genuine either
• Find the telephone number in your phone book, on a
bill or call directory enquiries
Ask the company to confirm they have sent someone out to
you. They will ask you for information about the identification
card, what the caller looks like and may also ask for the
date of birth or password of the caller.
If you need to get more information from the caller, leave
the door chain on at all times.
If the company does not know the caller, dial 999 and ask
for the Police, who will tell you what to do.
Put your safety first
Sometimes bogus callers pose as someone needing help –
perhaps a glass of water or access to a telephone. Put yourself
first. Do not feel you are rude or uncaring by saying ‘no’
– your own safety is more important.
Remember‚ it is your home
If you are unsure‚ do not open the door and do not let
the caller in.
Some cold callers will offer to do roofing‚ building
or driveway resurfacing. Some will vastly overcharge for unnecessary‚
shoddy or non-existent work.
Do not agree to any cold caller doing any work for you.
Never accept an offer to drive you to withdraw money
There have been instances where older people have been driven
to their bank or building society to withdraw money to pay
the cold caller’s charges.
Do not accept an offer to be driven from anyone you do not
know or do not trust. If you are pressurised to hand over
money‚ keep your door closed‚ dial 999 and ask
for the police.
Need some work done?
If you think you may need to have work done on your house
or driveway‚ ask for quotes from two or three reputable
companies. Friends and relatives may be able to recommend
companies or trades people they have been pleased with.
Your local Age UK group may also be able to provide lists
of companies and trades people to help you.
(There is a page set up on Age Scotland’s Web site
with examples of a checklist for passwords if you should care
to look at this. For those of you who have no internet access,
then it’s a page which lists all the suppliers you might
deal with and you write the passwords opposite. Personally,
what I did when I read about the list was; always remember
to keep the checklist in a safe, secure, but hidden place,
where only you know where that information is. Mae)
Contacting Age Scotland:
Write to Age Scotland, Causewayside House, 160 Causewayside,
Edinburgh EH9 1PR.
Telephone: 0845 833 0200. (Please note that they cannot contact
third parties at your request, so please provide only your
own contact details).
Age Scotland Helpline: 0845 125 9732 offers an independent,
confidential telephone based information service to people
aged fifty and over living in Scotland and to those associated
with them such as their carers and families.
contact Age Scotland online:
www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland (or Google ‘Age Scotland’)
(Ps: I know I say this all the time, but for those of
you who have not yet been tempted to try the internet, then
it might be worth your while to have a think about it, as
more and more information is being dealt with online. However,
I know that this may not always be possible, or indeed suit
everyone. But, one of my older relatives had a go just a couple
of months ago, and now they absolutely love it. So you never
know until you try! Mae)
As usual; my apologies to Age Scotland (and any other contributors)
for any misquotes.