Theft, offering impromptu handyman services or supposed bargains to get a signature on a contract is most often the target of front door scammers.
Fraudsters at the front door usually aim to get into their victims’ homes to look for cash, jewelry or other valuables. To do this, they pretend to be a person in need of help, a craftsman, an employee of the public utility company, or even a public official, such as a policeman.
Other scammers offer their victims door-to-door sales, such as impromptu handyman services, or try to pressure them into taking out a subscription or making a donation.
Their victims are often seniors and senior citizens, as they are usually at home during the day.
"Cheating at the front door" Is not recorded separately in police crime statistics, but with other fraud offenses. Nationwide, there were a total of 808 in 2020.074 cases of fraud (2019: 832.966 cases. In 2018 it was still 840.783 cases).
The clearance rate was 65.5 percent (2019: 66.6 percent).
The tricks of the doorstep scammers
Door-to-door fraudsters, who target their victims’ valuables, gain access to their homes under a pretext, for example, by asking for a glass of water, something to write on, or to use the toilet, or by informing their victims of a supposed burst water pipe that needs to be fixed quickly. If the door is then not completely closed, a second person can enter unnoticed and search the rooms for valuables.
The intruders, often gifted in acting, basically use very few tricks, but to which they always come up with new variations. Thus they appear in completely different roles: Sometimes they pretend to be someone in need of help, sometimes as a craftsman in work clothes, sometimes as a respectably dressed businessman, or even as an alleged official, for example a police officer.
In another type of doorstep scam, the scammers don’t even make a personal appearance, but instead drop "notifications" filled out by name into the mailboxes of their victims: Because no one was supposedly encountered, they are then supposed to call a cost-intensive phone number "to arrange an appointment to talk about your matter" or "to pick up your package".
Tips from the police
- Look carefully at visitors before opening the door through the peephole or window. Open the door only when the deadbolt is presented.
- Do not let strangers into your home. Re-order strangers at a later time when a trusted person is present.
- Defend yourself vigorously against intrusive visitors, speak loudly to them or call for help.
- Make an agreement with neighbors who are at home during the day to provide mutual assistance in the event of unknown visitors at the apartment door.
- Demand from Public officials basically the service card and check it carefully for printing, photo and stamp. If in doubt, call the appropriate authority before entering. Find out their phone number yourself.
- Remember: banks, savings banks, police or other authorities never send "money changers" or "counterfeit money examiners" to your house. Inform the police immediately about the appearance of such persons.
- Only let craftsmen into your apartment that you have ordered yourself or that have been announced by the property management company. The same applies to supposed representatives of public utilities.
- Do not accept anything for neighbors without their explicit notice, for example cash on delivery shipments or deliveries against payment.
- Do not sign for alleged gifts or confirmations of visits.
- Never change money at the front door. You could be deceived – for example by counterfeit money.
Business at the front door
Be careful if someone tries to sell you something at your door, especially if they try to lure you with bargains or freebies. This is often a scam used by criminals with the aim of getting you to sign a contract, for example for insurance, a cheap electricity tariff, a magazine subscription, or a household appliance.
Other front door scammers promise profits or claim to work for a social project in order to arouse compassion. And still others pretend to be employees of reputable companies. The goal is always the same: signing a contract.
Another front-door scam is offering spontaneous handyman services (especially roofing and paving work). Work actually started immediately serves only as a deception and is not finished. You as the client, however, are asked to pay for the repairs that have already been made.