Bogus callers

Reminder - take care with callers at your door

We are reminding residents that if a contractor needs to visit your home to carry out work on behalf of Harlow Council, you will receive a letter advising you of this and the name of the contractor in advance of any visit.

The letter will say how you will be contacted in relation to the visit or will give you the contractor’s contact details in order for you to make arrangements. If you are unsure do not allow anyone into your home until you have called Contact Harlow to confirm.

More information on Harlow Council tenant repairs (including emergencies and out of hours)

What to do when someone calls

Most people who call at your home are genuine, however sometimes, so-called ‘bogus callers’ can turn up unannounced with the intention of tricking their way into your home. Their aim is to distract you, often as a way of stealing money or valuables, and they are likely to strike when you are busy or may be caught off guard.

Bogus callers may be young or old, male or female and may claim to represent an organisation such as the Council, electricity‚ gas or water company. Some may pretend to be looking for directions, asking for a glass of water, selling items or cleaning windows.

They may also use ‘props’ such as a fake identity card or a company uniform and can be very persuasive and convincing. 

Before you go to the door

  • Close and lock the back door and any accessible windows before you go to the front door.
  • 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.
  • 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 bad weather.
  • Does the caller have an identification card?
    • If the caller does not have an 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 it:
      •  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 the door?
      •  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 may ask you for information about the identification card and what the caller looks like.
    • 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.

If you receive a visit from a bogus caller

Receiving a visit from a bogus caller can be upsetting. However, it's important that you report the incident to prevent it happening again.

Call the police and tell them what has happened, making sure to describe the caller as best you can.

You should also tell your neighbours, community groups, local Neighbourhood Watch scheme or Resident's Association, in case the caller decides to try other homes in your area.

You can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, if you prefer to speak to someone anonymously.

More information on bogus callers from Essex Police

Beware of cold callers asking about a recent accident

We have received reports from residents today (23 June 2016) about a potential cold calling scam.

The caller states they are calling on behalf of Harlow Council/Harlow Civic Centre about 'a recent accident you have been involved in', the caller then goes on to attempt to gather personal details from the call recipient.

We would like the public to be aware that Harlow Council would not cold call people regarding such an issue and have no connection with these calls. We would also like to remind residents to be wary about giving out personal details to callers.

If you receive a call from the Council and would like to verify it is genuine please telephone Contact Harlow on 01279 446655.

Rogue traders and scams

We encourage anyone who has been targeted by rogue traders or scams to call the Essex County Council Trading Standards helpline on 03454 040 506 for advice, guidance and support.

For more information visit: Essex County Council - Trading Standards

Buy With Confidence

Trading Standards operates the Buy With Confidence scheme, which enables consumers to identify approved traders who readily demonstrate commitment to high working standards, high levels of customer care and a fair trading policy.