When you answer the door to strangers and people in uniform it is important to be sure of who you are talking to, and what their intentions are. Manufacturers are always coming up with new and advanced ways of achieving this, from the traditional intercom and CCTV systems, to more modern digital video intercoms with night vision cameras. While this is perfect for those can afford to purchase and have these items installed, they do not always offer the best solution to those of us who do not have the budget to afford expensive gadgets, or those technophobes who struggle to operate anything with a power supply!
The simplest solutions to any problem are often the most effective, and every digital solution has it analogue equivalent - although convincing a Grand Theft Auto obsessed teenager to put down his game controller and pick up the Monopoly dice is not going to work! But tech-savvy teens are not the ones that unscrupulous scammers have in their sights, it is the most vulnerable in our society, especially the elderly, who are the most likely to be singled out as they are often viewed as an easy target. There are several ways that these vulnerable members of society can confront strangers who seek access to their home, whilst maintaining their own security at the same time.
The simplest solution, if your door allows it, is to speak to the visitor through the door without opening it at all. If you have a window in the door you can insist that the visitor holds their ID up to the window, so that you can ascertain whether the ID appears genuine and that the photo matches the person you are talking too. Alternately, if you do not have a window in the door, or it has textured or frosted glass, you could speak to them via your letterbox or through one of your house windows instead - an upstairs window is particularly effective if your mobility allows it.
If these options are not suitable for you, then there are some reasonable priced products that could be installed to your front door that provide the same solution. A door viewer, also known as a peephole or spy-hole, is a great little product that allows you too see who is outside your home without opening the door. The caller is unlikely to even realise that there is anyone inside the property, allowing you to ignore the caller altogether if you wish. Another solution is to have a door chain installed to your front door, which are available for both wooden and UPVC doors. When engaged, the chain prevents the door from opening fully, leaving a gap where you can see and speak to the caller and ask them to pass to you any ID or literature that may confirm the reason for their visit.
Even if you are expecting a workman or official to visit your home, it is important to confirm their ID prior to allowing them access to your home. The Government regulator, Ofgem, insists that utilities companies provide and ID scheme, meaning their representatives must provide an agreed password or picture card prior to entering your home. This can be arranged by contacting you providers and asking to be included in their 'Priority Services Register'. A cold caller should never be allowed into your home in any circumstances. Even if they turn out to be genuine, it is important to establish a relationship with them and their company prior to allowing them to access.
If in doubt, you could telephone the company that the caller claims to represent, but if you do this always look up the telephone number yourself, do not trust any telephone number that the caller gives you as it may not be genuine. Anyone who refuses or is reluctant to show you their identification should always be refused entry, simply shut the door on them immediately and call the police if you have serious concerns about their intentions.
Remember, the inconvenience that a caller may experience by being challenged or refused entry to your home is nothing compared to the value of your own safety and security.