Police are urging the public to be on their guard against cold callers, particularly those who are trying to sell items or services on the doorstep.
Supt. Wendy Middleton said: “Unfortunately, there are still people coming into our local communities and deliberately exploiting the elderly and vulnerable, abusing their trust and potentially taking significant amounts of money from them. This is a truly frightening ordeal for people and the effects can last a long time.
“We have seen instances recently where cold callers have been overbearing and pushy to get access to homes, or to secure payment for goods or services, which very often never materialise or are at incredibly elevated prices. If this has happened to you, please make sure that we know about it.
“Such reports are truly heartbreaking and I would ask friends and loved ones of older people, or those who are vulnerable in our communities to please, take a few minutes and have a conversation with them about what they can do to help protect themselves and their homes.
“There are a number of initiatives which are really helpful, including the ‘No Cold Calling’, the ‘Nominated Neighbour’ scheme, QuickCheck, Neighbourhood Watch and ScamwiseNI Partnership and details of all of these can be found on our website at psni.co.uk.
“You can contact your local crime prevention officer on 101 about any of the above schemes or any other crime prevention queries that you may have and please remember that your local Neighbourhood Policing Teams are also here for you if you have any concerns. You will see our teams out and about, but you can also ask for them by ringing 101.
The best advice that I can give is that you should not open the door unless you know who the caller is and keep all doors locked, even when at home. But if you do want to open the door, then follow these simple steps:
· Before answering the front door, make sure the back door is locked.
· If you have a door chain, remember to use it before opening the door. If not, we recommend you get one installed.
· Ask the caller for their identification and check it carefully.
· Ask them to wait outside and close the door - genuine callers will not mind.
· Ring Quick Check on 101. The call will be answered personally and promptly by a trained police call handler. They will check with the company that the person at the door is genuine. If they are not or they think that there is something suspicious, the operator will be able send the police to you.
· Do not let anyone into the property until you are satisfied as to who they are
Finally, I would like to issue an appeal to local communities – we all know what normal looks and feels like where we live and therefore I would ask that you trust your instincts when something doesn’t feel right and ring this though at the time to 101. Your instincts are probably right and we would far rather take the time to check your report out and prevent crime, than responding when it is too late.
Thank you and stay safe.”