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Protecting myself on my doorstep

Although it may be frightening to think of all the ways in which you can be at risk of exploitation in your own home, it is important to remember that most callers and strangers are genuine callers who pose no threat to your safety. However, it is difficult to distinguish between genuine callers and bogus callers at first glance. 'Bogus callers', ‘rogue traders’ or 'distraction burglars' can be male, female, old or young, and may come individually or in a group. By taking simple measures and being cautious at your doorstep, you can help to protect yourself against those few people whose motives are to steal your money or valuables.

Here are some tips to keep in mind so that you can protect yourself on your doorstep:

Keep control

Remember it’s your doorstep and you are in control. You have the right to refuse entry to someone and the right to ask someone to leave. You should not feel afraid or embarrassed to do so. If they refuse, call the Gardaí.

Put yourself first

Although you may like to chat to callers or feel good about being helpful to callers in need, remember that you must put yourself first. Do not feel embarrassed or that you are rude or uncaring by saying ‘no’ – your own safety is more important.

Be cautious

Always be cautious about people who you don’t know, calling to your home. Before you open your door to strangers, it is important to perform checks to ensure that the person poses no threat to you. Legitimate callers such as officials from your gas or electricity company or a charity fundraiser will always present an identification card giving their name and details. Ask them to call back at a specified later time which would allow you to verify their identification details. Use the Garda Card which is provided as part of the Keep Control Tools and Resources

Take advice

If you are contacted with what seems like a good deal, don’t be afraid to take advice before making a decision to buy or invest. Ask your family and friends what they think.

Take your time

Don’t feel under pressure or be rushed into making a decision. A genuine offer is unlikely to require you to make an instant decision. Take your time to decide whether the product or service, and the terms offered, are right for you.

If in doubt, keep them out

If you are not sure about your caller’s intentions, the safest course of action is to keep them out.

Report it

If you are concerned about unwanted callers, report these concerns to the Gardaí immediately. If you are ever unfortunate enough to have been the victim of burglary or a scam, it is important to report it. Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to do so. People who have successfully targeted an older person’s home may do so again if the crime goes unreported. Reporting it can stop it happening again.

University College Dublin (UCD)National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP)Health Services Executive (HSE)Older People's Empowerment Network (OPEN)
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