How to answer the door safely

In the UK, over a million people live alone and many of those people are elderly or vulnerable. It’s important that if you or an elderly relative live alone, or you are at home alone, that you are aware of how to answer the door safely.

It’s up to you who you let into your home, but answering the front door, when you are alone, no matter what your age is, can present risks. Knowing how to answer the door safely can prevent risk of harm or burglary.

Distraction burglary and bogus callers are people who try to gain entry to your home by claiming to be someone you might trust, they may say you that you need emergency work done to your home, or be in the guise of a salesperson, or utility company.

Genuine callers

Genuine callers will usually pre-arrange to come and see you by booking  an appointment and will carry photographic identification.

Many public utility services will have a phone number and password system. You can call your utility provider to find out more.

Always ask to see identification before you open the door and never be afraid to ask the caller to wait whilst you look up the company phone number so that you can check up on them before you let them into your home.


How To Answer The Door Safely

What to watch out for

  • If the caller becomes agitated or tries to hurry you, don’t let them in.
  • Don’t use a telephone number provided by the person at your door to check on them as this could be an accomplice. Always look up the number yourself. If you are unable to do this, don’t let them in.
  • Distraction burglars often work in pairs, don’t let them in if you don’t know who they are, as one might distract you whilst the other one steals from your home.
  • Female callers can be a danger too, don’t trust callers based on gender.

Prepare for safety

  • If you can, fit a door chain so that you can put it on before you open the door. Don’t leave the door chain on all the time as it may delay your exit in the case of a fire.
  • If you have a front door spy hole, use this to see who is calling, otherwise use a nearby window.
  • If you are unable to do any of the above, talk to the caller through the door without opening it, and ask them to show or pass their ID through the letterbox.
  • Ensure that you lock your back door if answering the front door to someone you don’t know.
  • If you have a mobile or cordless telephone, take it to the door with you so that you can call emergency services quickly.


If you are ever in doubt, don’t let the person into your home. You have the right to feel safe and comfortable in your own home.

If you feel scared, worried or anxious, call the police and let your neighbours know.

How to answer the door safely fact sheet to give to friends and family

You may have a friend, neighbour or relative who would benefit from this advice. We have created a free fact sheet on how to answer the door safely for you to print off and pass on.

Download our fact sheet ‘How to answer the door safely’


If you require  further information on the discussion above or indeed any enquiries regarding Care in your own home, please contact our office on 01623 360 193 or email us at

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