Banking Protocol Tackles Doorstep Fraudsters
Thanks to a pilot scheme launched in Havering 2013, older people are to get more police protection from ‘Doorstep Fraudsters’ who try to swindle them out of huge sums of money for doing simple, or even non-existent, works to their properties.
The initiative, known as the banking protocol, is to be rolled out across the country having investigated 84 crimes and made 14 arrests in the London region.
Suspicious bank staff ring 999 and give the password ‘banking protocol’ to summon police support. In a recent case, suspicious staff used the protocol when a 95-year-old customer came into a bank to withdraw £3,000 for house repairs. He had been driven there and instructed to do so by a so called ‘builder’. The police arrived and the man was arrested as he waited in his car!
It starts with a knock on the door. Criminals often masquerade as well-intentioned handymen and chat about family members or friends as they try to assess the vulnerability of the elderly man or woman. They might first splash a bucket of water on an external wall, so they can suggest it is evidence of damp. Or they might offer to clear clogged gutters or repair a leaking pipe. Then comes the bill: the crooks demand a large cash sum and may escort the victim to a local bank branch to withdraw the money.
Here are top ten tips for householders:
- Be suspicious of all “too good to be true” offers
- Be wary of any cold-callers who offer to do repair work on your property. Always request a written quote and obtain further ones from reputable companies
- Never pay in full for work until it is completed and you are happy with the outcome
- Don’t feel pressured to agree to work, or any other offer, immediately. Insist on taking time to make an informed decision and speak to friends or family to gauge their opinions
- Do not hand over money or sign anything until you have checked credentials
- Never give banking or personal details to anyone you do not know or trust
- Always log on to a website directly rather than clicking on links provided in an email
- Always seek independent or legal advice
- Do not be embarrassed to report a scam
- If you spot suspicious activity or have been a victim yourself, report it to Action Fraud (actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040)