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Public urged to treat security 'cold calls' with caution

Dorset Police and Trading Standards are encouraging members of the public to treat cold calls relating to home security issues with caution – following a recent spate of phone calls being reported to the Force.

Over 30 incidents were reported to Dorset Police last month – August 2010 – of calls from withheld numbers asking residents in Dorset about their home security and asking if they have alarm systems.

Some of the callers have also claimed to be calling from Dorset Police – this is not true, Dorset Police does not cold call residents about home security issues.

Debbie Oldfield, Dorset Police Crime Prevention Advisor, said: “We have received over 30 reports from concerned residents in Dorset informing us about phone calls that they’ve received from withheld numbers asking questions about home security.

“In some cases these callers have claimed to be from Dorset Police. This is certainly not true, as Dorset Police does not cold call residents about home security.

“These calls seem to be targeting older members of our communities, as a number of the calls have specifically asked the residents if they are over the age of 80 – and if the resident has answered that they’re not, the caller has actually hung up.

“The callers are reportedly asking residents about home security issues and alarm sales.

“I would encourage all residents to be wary when receiving these types of calls and advise them not to give out any information about security concerning their homes.

“If you have any concerns when you are on the phone to a cold caller, do not hesitate to terminate the call.”

Andy Shimmen, Trading Standards Officer for Borough of Poole, urged residents to be cautious of any company that claims to be working with the police or offering free or very cheap alarm systems which might lead to an expensive maintenance or monitoring contract.

He said: “There are many honest companies out there so if you do need an alarm we would suggest shopping around for the best deal and not to pass any information to cold callers or doorstep sellers operating like this.

“If householders want to improve their security with an alarm then we would recommend looking for a trading standards approved installer through http://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ or ring Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.”

Members of the public can report suspicious or concerning phone calls from cold callers to Dorset Police on 01202 or 01305 222 222. In an emergency please dial 999.