Information and advice on home security, fire safety and how to stay warm this winter.
Callers to your door
Buying on your doorstep can be convenient and there are a number of legitimate companies that use this technique.
Unfortunately so do criminals. They'll use clever tactics to pressurise you into providing information that can be used for fraud or persuade you to buy goods and services you don’t want.
Criminals may also pose as water officials, or other utility company employees, or even pretend to be carrying out customer surveys to gain access to your home or obtain your personal information.
Ways to protect yourself against doorstep fraud include:
- Consider fitting a door chain and spy hole
- Always ask for and check identification before letting anyone you don't know into your house
- If you're interested in the product ask the seller to leave contact details so you can arrange an appointment with their company
- Don’t sign on the spot – shop around and get at least 3 written quotes
- Don’t reveal personal or financial details
- If you do decide to buy:
- ask for references from previous customers
- always get any agreement you make in writing
- ensure you know what the cooling-off period is
- never pay for work before it has been completed, and only then if you're happy with it.
Online, email or postal fraud
Unsolicited (spam) emails and letters are sent out to millions of people daily to try to gain personal information.
A common type of spam email is one used for “Phishing”. These look like they've been sent by a legitimate organisation such as a bank, HMRC or other organisations such as PayPal, Amazon or similar. They'll contain links to fake company websites which ask you to enter/ change your security settings. The fraudster then captures and uses the personal and account data to commit fraud.
Sometimes Phishing emails contain correct personal information such as your name but this doesn't mean it's genuine.
Spam emails can also be used to deliver computer viruses and malware that can be used to capture data held on your computer.
Criminals will also use letters and email to send details of investment schemes that will promise substantial returns, but in truth these investments will either not exist or be worthless.
Ways to protect yourself against mail fraud include:
- Protect personal data in the same way you would your other valuables
- When disposing of information with personal data ensure it is shredded or burnt
- Delete unsolicited e-mails without opening, and never open any attachments
- Keep your computers, tablets and smart phones secure with up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spam software.
- Never provide personal information in response to an unsolicited contact. If it is genuine the caller will be happy that you go away and verify their identity
Fraud over the phone
To commit most types of fraud, criminals need your personal and financial data.
One way they'll do this is by contacting you by phone.
Sometimes they'll pretend to be from an organisation that you trust such as your bank or the police.
It's easy to be caught out so you need to make sure you know how to spot the signs.
If you're ever asked for more personal information than usual, don't give it to them. Instead hang up and contact the organisation/company back using a number you know e.g. one from your latest bill, in the telephone book or from their official website.
These agencies have practical information and advice to help you keep your home safe:
- The Crimestoppers website has information on crime prevention and how to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
- The Metropolitan Police website contains advice on home security.
- Victim Support is the national independent charity that offers support to victims of crime.