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Common doorstep scams

This article tells you about common doorstep scams, explains your rights and what to do if you get unwanted doorstep callers.
2 min read
In this article
Rogue traders Hard-luck stories Bogus officials
Nottingham Knockers

Rogue traders


The scam: a trader will come to your home and say that you need work done. This might be new paving or a new driveway, but a common favourite is to say that you have a hole in your roof or your guttering is coming down – something that you can’t easily check yourself. They’ll say that it’s really urgent and if you don’t have it fixed, your house will fall down, the roof will leak or it will end up costing you lots of money. They’ll put pressure on you to have the work done now.

The reality: it’s highly likely that they’ve made up the problem. They might pretend to fix it or do a shoddy job. They’ll then charge you an extortionate amount for the ‘work’.

Hard-luck stories


The scam: a stranger (who might seem perfectly respectable and friendly) will turn up on your doorstep pretending that, for example, they need to use the phone because their car has broken down or their pregnant girlfriend is ill – they need a glass of water – they’ve lost their dog in your garden.

The reality: they’ll say anything to make you feel sorry for them and will take advantage of your good nature to help them. While you fetch the water or go to get the phone, they might pocket your valuables. Or they might work in pairs – while one distracts you looking for the ‘dog’ in the back garden, the other will gain access to your home.

Bogus officials


The scam: an official looking person with a uniform and ID badge, turns up on your doorstep. They might say they are there to read the gas meter or conduct a survey for the local council.

The reality: their ID could be fake. They want to get into your home or trick you into divulging personal information that can be used for ID fraud.

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Nottingham Knockers


The scam: usually carried out by young men, who go door to door, selling household products. They carry a fake ID and claim to be recently out of prison or on probation, explaining that this is a legitimate rehabilitation scheme.

The reality: the household goods are supplied by a man (traditionally from Nottingham, hence the name) who employs them. A group of young men are dropped off to work an area, and then collected by the same man later that day. The knockers’ role is to establish where elderly or vulnerable people live, and this information is then sold on to other criminals. If they come to your door, the advice from the police is to phone 101 to report them. However persistent these men are with their hard-luck stories, do not buy from them.

Further reading

Scams aimed at older people

Read our guide on common scams and how to identify them. Plus, share it with relatives and friends, to help them keep ...

Postal scams

Find out how to avoid common postal scams, the scale of the problem and what to look out for.

Last updated: 30 Nov 2018