Bogus callers in rural Ireland: how to prevent being scammed

One of the main issues in rural crime in Ireland at the moment is bogus callers, people calling to a house trying to scam the owner, to elderly people, according to Garda Deirdre Scanlon of Ennistymon Garda station.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show about rural Garda station closures and districts merging, she said that as a community Garda she tries to go out to the people especially the people in isolated areas, people that are vulnerable, living alone that can’t get in to the station, so she visits them and gives them crime prevention advice.

“It’s nice to call to these people because times have changed so much they could go from one end of the day to the next not seeing anybody,” she said.

Garda.ie has the following advice to prevent bogus callers taking advantage of you or someone you know:

  • Tell the caller that you never employ trades people ‘cold calling’ to your door. Ask for a sales brochure or other documentation that you can subsequently investigate and verify as credible.
  • This should have a contact telephone number, known address and a VAT registered number.
  • Be particularly careful where sales documentation only displays mobile contact numbers or incomplete addresses. Telephone directory enquiries can assist in establishing the credibility and bona fides of the company or individual concerned.
  • If you are satisfied that the company or individual is credible and you still think their employment is necessary, ask for an itemised written quotation for the services being offered and the names of persons and locations where they have previously worked successfully.
  • Never solely rely on the accuracy of the information being proffered. Verify the information yourself.
  • Always seek comparable estimates for any services offered from other established reputable companies.
  • Never engage a person who insists on cash payment for services offered. Even when employing a reputable company always use a method of payment that is traceable.
  • Never leave strangers, even bona fide workers, unsupervised in your home.

Garda Scanlon said that if you are living alone, do not let a bogus caller know you are living alone.

“Some of the ladies I often visit in North Clare say that ‘himself is out the back now at the moment’ and there might be no ‘himself’ out the back.

“I met a lady recently and she’s widowed for the last 25 years, she left her husband’s wellingtons at the front door, she never moved them,” Garda Scanlon said.

Bogus caller cards are available and Garda Scanlon said to get a bogus caller to write their name and number on the card and to tell them that if you need them you will call them.

“You’re not entertaining them you’re just asking their details and letting them go on their way,” she said.

Garda bogus caller card

She said that she is trying to make people more safe in their own houses and also more aware of these callers that are coming to people through meetings with communities in the area.

“These people grew up in a time when they took everybody at face value, everybody was a nice person they’d invitie people in, they’d have no bother putting on the kettle. Unfortunately we’re dealing with a different clientèle nowadays,” she said.

Garda Scanlon said not everyone is calling for the right ageda and same reason. She is making people more aware that if they need jobs done to get somebody local.

“A lot of the time when these people offer services that are too good to be true and we’re trying to get that across; we’re trying to make people more assertive and ask questions,” she said.

Garda.ie says the “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is”.

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