A WOMAN has criticised the way benefits staff in Huddersfield cold-call at homes.
Fifty-year-old Maureen Beaumont got a visit from a DSS officer last Saturday morning - then spent the rest of the weekend worrying she had fallen victim to a bogus official trying to get her bank account details.
There was no DSS number she could phone to confirm the caller's identity.
It was not until Monday afternoon that she discovered the caller was genuine.
Mrs Beaumont, of Bradley, said: "I get incapacity benefit and all the caller wanted to know was if I wanted my benefits paid by Giro, into the post office or by direct debit into my bank account.
"If I had chosen the direct debit I thought I would have had to give her my bank details.
"I chose Giro cheque because I did not want to give out any personal information.
"But if the DSS call unannounced on pensioners they would really worry and it could cause them serious stress.
"The question she wanted answering was straightforward and could have been dealt with by phone or letter.
"I'm sure there was no need to call round without making an appointment first," said Mrs Beaumont.
"Although she showed her identity card, there was no way we could check it because there was no-one we could phone on a Saturday morning.
"I was quite shocked by the visit. All these big organisations usually make an appointment first and then will be happy to wait outside while their identity is checked by phone.
"After all, the elderly are constantly being reminded never to open the door to strangers."
A DSS spokesman said the department phones and writes to people about the three different ways they can now get their benefits. He added: "In some instances - where we have been unable to contact the customer by letter or phone or where the matter has remained unresolved - we have visited customers in their homes.
"Customers are under no obligation to provide personal account details to the visiting officer. Instead, they can complete a form which can be posted to the appropriate office after the visit.
"Whenever our staff visit a customer at their home they always provide proof of identity. People should ask to see authorisation from any official visitor before they allow them in the house," he added.