Fire service reminds people to check ID after bogus callers enter home of elderly resident

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has reminded people not to let anyone into their homes without recognised identification.

This follows a bogus call to a home in Cambridge earlier this month where two men, pretending to be from the fire service, conned their way into the home of a 95-year-old woman.

In a letter to the fire service, the 95-year-old, from the Kings Hedges area of the city, said the two men claimed to be carrying out an annual safety check and asked lots of questions, but not many about fires.

The resident said: “I asked them to check my fire alarm, which they did, but they did not appear to know much about them. They were quite interested in my security locks and bolts.”

Station Commander Paul Clarke, responsible for adult safety at CFRS, said: “Our staff would always present photographic identification when visiting a property, along with an explanation of who they are. Where available they would also complete an entry in a carer’s handbook.

“Sometimes when the crews are out if they haven’t been able to make contact with someone, they might just knock on the off chance to do a visit. In the main, however, we will always try and contact people first if we are carrying out a visit, either by letter or phone.”

CFRS offers free Safe and Well visits to elderly and vulnerable residents within Cambridgeshire. These visits include advice on fire safety in the home, falls prevention, alcohol consumption, staying well and warm, and crime reduction.

Paul added: “It always saddens us to hear there are some in society who would seek to take advantage of those most vulnerable. If anyone is in doubt I would always advise them to challenge the people at the door to provide their identification and never let people into your home unless you are satisfied they have the relevant identification.”

Cambridgeshire County Council provides door stickers designed to deter cold callers and can also support communities in setting up Good Neighbours schemes to build stronger communities that look out for each other.

Elaine Matthews, Strengthening Communities Manager for Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “For both pre-arranged and other visitors to your home you should always use your door chain and request ID. Check the validity of ID by calling the organisation concerned and not the number shown on the card itself. If a resident has any suspicions at all they should not worry about appearing rude in turning visitors away.”

Kate Thwaites, Community Safety Officer at Parkside Police Station in Cambridge, reiterated the importance of keeping the door chain on and calling to check the validity of an organisation.

“A genuine caller won’t mind waiting outside while you make a phone call to a company to check,” she said.

To find out about more about free Safe and Well visits in the home pl click here.