The dangers of bogus callers and rogue traders
You may need to be careful when people you don’t know and haven’t invited call at your door - they could be a Doorstep Criminal.
What are doorstep criminals?
Doorstep criminals target residents across the country, particularly the older or more vulnerable. They may tell you that repairs need to be done to your home, making you feel the jobs need doing immediately. The work they say needs to be done usually relates to property maintenance, gardening, driveways, roofing, general building work, guttering etc. They can be persistent and intimidating to get you to agree to have the work done. Often they will increase the price as the job progresses, often not finishing the work, which is frequently of a very poor standard. In some cases the quote is low and then becomes much higher. The work is either of poor quality or is not carried out at all. These traders commit criminal offences as they do not issue Cancellation Notices or comply with other Trading Standards Legislation. Some of the traders who work in this way are linked to distraction burglary.
What is distraction burglary?
Doorstep callers are not always as genuine as they first appear. They often pretend to be some kind of official, perhaps from a water or gas company or the council, saying that urgent work needs to be done to the house, perhaps roofing, or offering to carryout resurfacing or garden work. They then charge an extortionate price for little or no work. Once inside, they seek to distract the occupant so they can steal cash or other valuables. Sometimes one person distracts the householder whilst the other sneaks in to steal. The householder may only see one person.
What should you do when people you don't know call at your door?
- Keep your front and back doors locked
- Look to see who is at your front door, through the window or spy-hole.
- Put a door chain on before opening the front door. If you don’t have one, ask the caller to pass their ID card through the letterbox.
- Keep the chain on the door. Check the caller’s identity. Check that they are who they say they are, do not call the number on their ID card, take the time to find the company number from the ‘phone book.
- If you are not sure about the caller, ask them to make an appointment to come back when a friend or family member can be with you. A genuine caller will understand.
- Do not sign any forms for services or give money to people you don’t know when they turn up on your doorstep.
- Dial 999 and ask for the police if you feel afraid or threatened.
- If you are not sure, keep them out!
- Never let a stranger into your home, even if they do offer an identity card.
What if you want work done in your house or garden?
- If you do want the work done, get quotes from reliable tradesmen and take your time to choose. A reputable trader will be happy to let you do this.
- To find a reputable tradesman ask friends and neighbours for recommendations.
- Phone a local company, get a quote and fix a date and time. That way, you know the caller is genuine.
- Don’t part with any money or a deposit unless you are sure you want to buy.
Never pay the full amount or a large deposit up front.
- Ask for a detailed receipt with the trader’s full address and telephone number on it.
- Beware of traders who will only accept cash or are prepared to ‘do a deal’ for cash.
- NEVER accept any offers of a lift to the bank or building society to get money for the trader.