Quick Check 101, an initiative to help stop bogus callers, was re-launched today (Monday 15 January) by the Utility Regulator and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Under the scheme, residents can now phone 101, the police non-emergency number, to check the identity of callers to their home who claim to represent an energy or water network company.
The scheme is not only a collaboration between the PSNI and the Utility Regulator, but also includes all of Northern Ireland’s energy and water network companies – firmus energy, NIE Networks, Northern Ireland Water, Phoenix Natural Gas and SGN Natural Gas. Supported by the Commissioner for Older People, the initiative is being re-launched in a bid to help people feel safer in their homes.
Jenny Pyper, Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator explained further:
“Bogus callers are people who call at your house claiming to be from an organisation in order to trick their way into your home and steal from you. Although most people who call at your door are genuine, some are unfortunately not. As protecting the interests of consumers is at the heart of what we do, we wanted to enhance the good work already being carried out by the energy and water companies to tackle bogus callers.
“Re-launching the Quick Check 101 scheme is part of our wider Consumer Protection Strategy which is aimed at providing real and positive change for energy and water consumers in Northern Ireland. The scheme is an important part of that Strategy and aims to make sure consumers feel safer when utility company staff visit their home.
“I want consumers to feel empowered and confident in dealing with people who call at their door. This scheme, developed in partnership with the network companies and PSNI, will help make a difference.”
Superintendent Simon Walls from District Policing Command highlights the initiative:
“The Quick Check scheme provides reassurance to members of the public about callers to their door claiming to be from network companies. Anyone who wishes to check the identity of someone who says they are calling on the pretext of inspecting gas, electricity or water supplies can now call the police non-emergency 101 number to verify their identity.
“Your call will be answered by a trained police call handler who will take the details of the company which the caller claims to be working for. The call handler will then contact the utility supplier to determine whether the caller is genuine.
“I would encourage members of the public to follow our advice when dealing with unexpected visitors to their home.”
· Callers should always be asked for proof of identity. Genuine callers will be only too happy to provide this information and to wait outside the property until it is verified. No caller should be given access to the property until the householder is sure they are genuine.
· Never leave doors unlocked and do not to leave keys in an unsafe place (such as under doormats or flower pots)
· Follow this advice when answering the door:
o Before answering the front door, make sure the back door is locked.
o If you have a door chain, remember to use it before opening the door. If not, we recommend you get one installed.
o Ask the caller for their identification and check it carefully.
o Ask them to wait outside and close the door – genuine callers will not mind.
o Ring Quick Check on 101. The call will be answered personally and promptly by a trained police call handler. They will check with the company that the person at the door is genuine. If they are not or they think that there is something suspicious, the operator will be able send the police to you.
o Do not let anyone into the property until you are satisfied as to who they are
The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said: “From its conception, my office has been involved in the re-launch of the Quick Check scheme to include water, electricity and gas network companies, and I have been delighted to see the support they’ve shown for the scheme. This shows the commitment that exists to keeping older people safe, not just within the PSNI but across a range of sectors in our local community.
“All older people deserve to feel safe in their own homes yet we often hear of bogus callers pretending to be from a utility company in order to gain access to an older person’s property. This leaves many older people feeling frightened, vulnerable and unsure of who to trust. The re-launched Quick Check scheme is a quick and easy way for older people to check if a caller is genuine simply by calling the police non-emergency number ‘101’.”
Jenny Pyper, Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator concluded: “The success of this scheme relies on collaboration and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those involved for their work to date and continued support as we all work together to deliver protection for consumers.”