Bogus callers don’t observe Christmas

BOGUS callers don’t observe the Christmas break, Carrick residents are being warned.

Local authorities are advising caution when it comes to bogus callers, who often use the festive period to prey on vulnerable households.

Concerns over the number of bogus telephone calls received at residences in the Carrick area have been rife recently, with the elderly perhaps most at risk.

Pinwherry pensioner Ruth Murray, 80, had a frightening call last month from an anonymous caller who she claims sounded like a government official, offering her £1000 as a result of an initiative for over-60s.

“I was alarmed for everybody else that gets this call,” she said. “It was very convincing, and I know people that would be easily taken in by it. We do get £300 at Christmas time for the winter fuel payment and the £1000 could easily be confused with that.”

Carrick community safety officer PC Kevin Reynolds advised residents never to give out any personal information unless you are the one who made the call and are 100 per cent sure of the identity of the caller; never to send money to anyone who claims to have a prize for you; and not to give out your credit card or bank card details to strangers on the telephone.

He also warned against bogus workmen and officials, who may turn up at your door unannounced and trick you into paying for unecessary work, or bogus salesmen who may try to sell you products for an unfair price.

Use the door viewer when answering the door, he said; check identification badges of anyone calling and if you don’t know the person and are not expecting them, don’t let them in.

If you have a password with a company make sure the caller uses it, and never let people try to persuade you to let them into your home. If someone is persistent, ask them to call at another time and arrange for a friend or family member to be with you.

Never agree to pay for goods or give money to strangers who arrive at your door, the police advise, and do not keep large amounts of money in your home - if it’s not there it can’t be taken. If the person refuses to leave your door, phone 999 and ask for the police. Anyone requiring information or assistance regarding bogus callers should contact PC Reynolds on 01292 664010.

Scottish Water have issued their own guidelines to deal with bogus utilities representatives, which they say can be prevalent at this time of year.

When householders receive a cold call from anyone claiming to be from Scottish Water they should not, under any circumstances, open the door without first checking the caller’s identification card or letter, they say.

This should be passed through the letter box for verification as it stops a bogus caller forcing their way in, even if the door is ajar, or on a chain. Genuine Scottish Water employees will be happy to wait while you check their identity.

Is the photo on the card the same as the person at the door? Does the card contain the Scottish Water Customer Helpline number? Has the card been tampered with in any way? If you are not confident that they are a genuine caller, send them away. If you are in any doubt about the caller’s identity call the Scottish Water Customer Helpline on 0845 601 8855. Remember that telephone numbers on ID cards or letters presented could be false, so contact utility companies by using phone numbers found in telephone directories or the internet. If you are still suspicious call the police.

In a bid to help protect customers against Bogus Callers, Scottish Water is again offering an Anti Bogus Caller Pack which contains a personal electronic alarm, window sensor, door viewer, UV Marker Pen and guard bar.

Packs are available to the first 50 customers contacting Scottish Water by emailing or writing to Bogus Caller Pack, Scottish Water Customer Marketing, PO Box 8855 Edinburgh EH10 6YQ.