At some point in time we all need to allow a repairman or contractor into our homes whether it is to tend to a cable issue with the TV, plumbing or to fix an appliance.
What are some of the strategies we can put in place that leave us in control of the visit and allow us to be as safe as possible? Here are some things to consider.
Ideally you will not be alone when the repairman is scheduled to visit but this is often not possible.
Presentation: If you do live alone in a condo or apartment complex, as we discuss in our home safety trainings, placing an additional first initial in front of yours on the directory board, gives the impression more than one of you might be home. This also hold true if you have had a man record your outgoing message on your telephone voice mail.
Vetting: Well vetted and licensed contractors or technicians from larger service providers are always better to use than someone you might want to choose based on low pricing from the classified ads
Time of Visit: Schedule the visit on your terms and at a time that best suits you. Perhaps when neighbors are home and the complex is busy. It does not hurt to let a neighbor know that you have a repairman coming in from 3-4pm etc. How about asking your neighbor to drop in during the repair visit?
Communications: You should have your cell phone clipped onto your waistband. The mobile should have your two best emergency contact phone numbers programmed into the speed dialer. If you have an alarm system, keep the wireless fob with you as well.
Low Profile: Before the visit, be sure to remove any valuables from the room he will be working in. this includes glassware, ornaments and any other items that reflect that there may be other valuables in the house besides those he can see. Do not wear expensive jewelry. Be sure that any extra sets of keys are not readily accessible either.
Simulation: Before he arrives, close a bedroom door that the repairman will not be going into and perhaps leave a radio playing just loud enough to hear from the room he will be working in. Perhaps this is your husband or son relaxing in his room?
Open Lines of Sight: If your neighbors are situated close by, and weather permitting, perhaps leave the doors, windows and window coverings open making what is going on inside more readily visible to others and leaving you less isolated in general.
Instincts: If upon arrival you get a bad vibe about the repairman do not hesitate while at the door and before you let him in, to tell him your husband came back from work ill and is sleeping. Could we perhaps reschedule for another time. Always trust your instincts! Things will only be worse if you allow this person in and then have to deal with him.
Identity: As you let him into the home ask him for a business card so that you can start “getting a check ready”for him. If he does not have a card and is resistant to giving you any form of identification, even the invoice letterhead, this is a red flag.
Positioning: Always maintain your position such that he is not blocking you from you best exit route. It is best to stand and watch the repair process. Ask questions and appear to be interested.
Time Stamping: This might be the time to call your husband or partner and let them know the repair man is here and that you are happy to announce that he said our TV will be working in no time. Now the repair man knows that someone other than you knows that he is there.
Too Many Questions: A professional vendor will limit conversation to the issue at hand and not ask seemingly friendly and curious questions about family, where your husband works, what shift etc. If he does this is a red flag. If you get a bad feeling about this person during the visit, this is the time to merely walk out of the house and to a neighbor.
Payment: It is always best to pay with a check. Paying with cash will indicate that perhaps there more money in the house and is too tempting.
Walk Through: Regardless of how brief the repair visit was, do a walk though of your home and be sure that all doors and windows that were locked are still in fact locked. Any propped doors or windows are a red flag that there is a plan to return to rob or invade the home!!