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Reminder to businesses to check identity of “official” callers

Posted on: 19 October 2018

Staff from official bodies, like the police, fire service, or local councils, who have to visit businesses as part of their jobs, are provided with identification material, like photo cards and warrant cards.

However Trading Standards officers report that they rarely have these credentials given more than a cursory examination. As they occasionally receive reports of bogus officials, we are encouraging businesses to take a closer look when “the inspector calls”.

A real official won’t object if you take a moment to look at their ID – it helps to keep you safe from imposters, who may want to scam you or distract you to steal from you.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Ask to see the visitor’s identity document (it should be proffered; if they’ve forgotten, remind them) and look at it closely.
  • It sounds obvious but check that the visitor matches the photo. Though none of us are getting any younger, it should match the person in front of you!
  • Ask for the name of the visitor’s line manager and why they are visiting.
  • If you’re in any doubt, phone a published telephone number for the organisation the person says they work for. It’s a good idea to check the number online or in a directory, as a fraudster might give you a bogus number, and some scams are sophisticated enough to have an “office” number to call.
  • Ask for the visitor’s line manager or someone else who can verify the person in front of you and the reason for the visit.
  • Remember, real officials will always have a good reason for their visit (even if you sometimes disagree!) and will do their best to reassure you, be polite, patient and act in a professional manner.

If you follow our advice is it much less likely that you will be scammed – so please help us to keep you safe.