Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards have seen a recent increase in rogue traders targeting older people using tactics such as befriending, religious affiliation and sometimes aggression to extort money.
E.g. 1. An Epsom resident was cold called by two men who offered to power wash his block paving. The initial demand of £500 escalated quickly and they escorted him to the bank to pay an extra £400.
E.g. 2. A Redhill resident was targeted by a bogus handyman who demanded £4,200 in cash for tidying his garden and removing waste. This rogue trader also escorted the man to his bank to retrieve the money but fortunately the bank was suspicious of the circumstances and intervened.
Rogue traders are often highly organised, professional criminals with years of practice of these crimes.
Trading Standards advice to avoid these callers is:-
Be sceptical, don’t be afraid to shut the door on a call caller.
Take your time, don’t be rushed or confused by technical jargon or pressure to agree.
Know who you’re dealing with, if you need help talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local council.
Protect your financial information.
Never engage with someone or allow them access to your home unless you can verify they are not scammers.
A Stop Cold Calling pack, including no cold calling stickers, has been designed to notify traders that cold callers are not welcome. Legitimate traders will abide by your wishes. You can request a pack from email@example.com.
You can report incidents of cold calling to Trading Standards via the Citizens’ Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.
If you have any experiences with doorstep scammers do let me know, by email.
This is a door-to-door scam carried out by opportunist criminals.
They generally target elderly people, especially elderly single women in houses that look as if the owner will have cash available.
They will often claim that they were driving past and noticed that you had a problem with your roof or missing tiles or a leaning chimney etc. They turn up at your door to warn you of the problem and offer to have a look and assess what needs to be done.
Having checked it out then they tell you the bad news – it’s a dangerous problem and has to be fixed urgently and of course they have the skills to do the job and can so straightaway.
There’s usually the incentive of pay in cash and get a big discount.
This may seem helpful to the homeowner, but it’s all a scam.
If you agree to them doing the work for you – they either disappear once the cash is handed over or they may do the work, but to such a poor standard that you have to get in a professional roofer to fix what’s been done. In some cases, they cause deliberate damage then charge even more to supposedly fix that.
However it works out – you lose.
To avoid the scam roofers
Do not deal with someone who turns up on your doorstep – tell them to go away.
Do not allow anyone to look at the ‘problem’ unless you have called them out to your property and they are known to be a local reputable business.
If you need roofing work or anything similar, find a local professional who is recommended by someone you know or at least has positive reviews online.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.
Fake builders cheated an elderly widow out of £700 and damaged an honest small business when they hijacked its address and used it to front their scams.
Bridget Maendl, runs postal and print franchise Mail Boxes Etc in London Bridge and has had to spend hours defending her company and explaining to short-changed consumers she too had been a victim of the criminals.
A lady named Joyce answered the door to a “charmer” offering to paint her house and claiming to be from a company called Property Wise Ltd based at in Southwark.
Two men spent an hour “fiddling about” in Joyce’s home the next day, then left with the £700 cash they had asked her for, promising they would return the following week. Much to her distress they didn’t.
This is a typical scam perpetrated by fake builders.
The criminals in this case created a number of fake company names – Property Wise Ltd, Active Roofing & Building Ltd and Citywise Builders Ltd.
The there companies claimed to be registered at the MailBoxes address and were not correctly registered at Companies House.
Bridget Maendl followed Trading Standards’ guidance and alerted Companies House to the fake company names being used.
The case is ongoing.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.
This is about people who turn up on your doorstep offering cut price electricity for those who have pre-payment meters.
Users of these meters buy keys to top-up their meter and scammers can clone the keys and then resell them. They typically offer the keys at half price so the householder thinks they are getting a good deal. However the scammers often sell the same key to numerous people and each key number can only be used once so the purchasers end up paying for the cloned key then again the full price for the electricity as the Electric companies register that the key has already been used and hence payment is due.
Action Fraud believe that more than 110,000 households have been affected by this crime already.
Customers of all the leading energy companies – including British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – have been affected.
Never buy your electricity from someone who knocks at your door. Electricity companies do not sell electricity top-up door-to-door.
Always buy your electricity from official outlets – PayPoint, Payzone and The Post Office.
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Trading Standards across the UK have been fighting to stop cold callers, where they intimidate householders, refuse to leave till something is purchased, worry the elderly, sell poor quality products at high prices, charge for services but don’t deliver and so on.
There are cold callers who provide legitimate services and care about their customers of course, but for many householders, unwanted cold callers are a real problem.
Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards co-operate in many areas and have jointly released a Stop Cold Calling sticker pack which is freely available to householders in both counties.
The pack contains:-
A warning sticker to go on the outside of your front door. This is to deter cold callers and makes it plain to them that they are not welcome and failure to leave is a criminal offence
A transparent version of the sticker that can attached inside a window
A “Don’t be a Victim of Doorstep Crime” sticker to go inside your door as a reminder
There’s also relevant information about cold calling and an invitation to sign up to their weekly newsletter called TS alert.
If you want this pack – contact your local trading standards as most have an equivalent service.
This a useful provision to help people who find it difficult or worrying to get rid of cold callers.
Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.
There are many genuine trades people and sellers who knock at your door offering legitimate services and products. But, there are also many scammers who want to talk you into bad deals or just steal your money.
For many older and vulnerable people, doorstep sellers can be frightening or too convincing.
If you don’t feel safe answering the door to someone you don’t know then don’t. Someone calling unexpectedly has no right to your time or courtesy. It’s your choice to answer or ignore.
The following precautions may help:-
Keep your doors locked even when at home
Have a chain on your front door so you can safely open it just a few inches
Have a spy hole (or electronic eye) fitted in the door so you can who’s knocking
Get a Trading Standards sticker ‘NO COLD CALLERS’
Trading Standards say you should never sign anything on the spot, never agree to allow any work to start right away and remember that you normally have a 14 day cooling-off period during which you can cancel any work and receive a refund of money paid.
They also say that you should never agree to have work done by someone just passing by. If some work is needed, get at least two quotations from reputable traders. Your local Trading Standards Service may operate an ‘approved trader scheme’ or use check-a-trade or similar review website.
Bogus callers may turn up on your doorstep and say that they have come to investigate a water leak or they are lost and need a drink of water. Sometimes they may say they have a child who has lost a ball in your back garden. They are probably trying to trick you to let them into your home so they can steal cash and valuable items. Don’t let them in.
It isn’t rude to ask someone to leave – it is your right.
Do Neighbourhood Watches Help to Reduce Door-to-Door Scammers?
The anecdotal evidence is that they do reduce this type of crime. This is largely because people are more aware of possible crimes and do keep an eye out for unexpected visitors to their doors. Also, door-to-door crooks tend to avoid areas where there are any signs of organisation against crime.
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