What to do if a stranger calls without warning

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A NUMBER of bogus-caller incidents in the Larne area in recent weeks has prompted the PSNI to issue advice to householders.

Police are reminding everyone to exercise caution when dealing with unexpected callers.

!It is worth remembering that bogus callers will use all sorts of tactics to gain access to a victim’s home,” said a spokesman. “Genuine callers will not mind being challenged about the authenticity of their identity,” he added.

The guidance from police on dealing with unexpected visitors is:

• Before answering your front door, ensure your back door is locked.

• Think before you open the door - use your chain or spy hole, or look out of the window to see if you recognise them.

• Ask callers for proof of identity.

“Genuine tradesmen should carry a photographic identification card,” said the PSNI spokesman. “Some bogus callers will offer you a glimpse of a card and hope you’ll be fooled. Check this carefully and telephone QuickCheck on 0800 013 22 90 to verify the caller is from the company they claim to be. This call is free and will be answered by a trained operator. They will take the details of the company, which the caller claims to represent, and then contact that organisation to determine if the caller is genuine. If there is anything suspicious the operator will contact police directly.”

Most utility companies operating in Northern Ireland have now signed up to and actively endorse the QuickCheck scheme.

Police also advised:

• Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming that they have seen something untoward in your rear garden, or somewhere that may encourage you to leave your house.

• If you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don’t let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and then arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to be present on their return.

The spokesman urged: ”If you have elderly relatives, neighbours, or provide care for anyone who may fall prey to this type of crime, make them aware of these messages. Police are always keen to hear from anyone who may have been approached at their home by a caller purporting to be from a legitimate company, or by anyone using an excuse to enter your home.

“Police would also advise householders to refrain from keeping large sums of money in the house.”

Anyone who would like advice on crime prevention and how to make their home safer should contact their local crime prevention officer on 0845 600 8000.