Warning issued over doorstep scammers - here's how to keep yourself safe

Since the pandemic began, there’s been an uptick in people being scammed on their own doorsteps.

The public has been warned to be alert to doorstep scammers as lockdown restrictions are eased.

A survey by consumer champion Which? Has suggested that around 16 per cent of people have had cold call visits from someone claiming to be a charity worker or salesperson since the first lockdown began.

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The poll, of 1,186 Which? Members, took place in February and found 9 per cent of people said the visitor was pressuring them into making a purchase or performing a certain action, such as donating.

People are being warned to be wary of unsolicited visits.

Which? said it does not know how many of these visits were scams, but added that even genuine doorstep selling can leave consumers at a disadvantage.

It said these unexpected visits can be unnerving, especially for elderly or vulnerable people or if the salesperson is particularly pushy.

Age UK says common types of doorstep scam can include rogue traders, bogus officials (such as gas or energy), made-up consumer surveys and fake charity collections.

While Which? says that not every doorstep visit is a scam, you should be very wary about purchasing anything at the door and should ask a seller to verify their identity before making a payment.

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AgeUK advises only letting someone in if you’re expecting them, and says not to feel pressured by anyone asking you to buy or sign something.

They also say you should never disclose your PIN number.

Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, said: “It’s highly concerning that doorstep scammers are back in business and looking to exploit the pandemic in every way they can.

“We all need to be wary of anyone who knocks on our door unexpectedly.

“Adopting a blanket policy not to buy goods or services offered at the door is a sure-fire way to stop any would-be fraudsters in their tracks.

“However, if you do decide to purchase something at your door, you should ask the seller for their ID or call the company to verify their identity before making any payments.

“If you encounter a fraudster, you should report this to Action Fraud in England or call Policing Scotland on 101 in Scotland and if you have any safety fears, dial 999 immediately.”

Additional reporting by PA.