Don't be duped on your doorstep

31 Mar 2016

Northumberland County Council is urging the local community to be on guard against bogus callers and rogue traders. 
 
At this time of year doorstep scammers can target individuals, particularly the vulnerable, with offers such as gardening work and property maintenance.
 
Councillor Dave Ledger, Northumberland County Council Deputy Leader, is reminding the public to be vigilant when dealing with door step traders.
 
He said: “Some door step callers will be genuine honest traders, but a number of them may be unscrupulous rogue traders, frequently associated with fraudulent practises and burglaries.
 
“Once a rogue trader has found a victim who will pay them, they will form a habit of calling at the same house regularly, suggesting work to be done on the property, knowing that they have extracted money from them before and believing they will probably be able to do so again.
 
“They often charge exorbitant prices for work that either does not take place or is of extremely poor quality. These corrupt traders think nothing of preying on the most vulnerable in our communities.”
 
The public are being asked to help the council in safeguarding the wider community by keeping an eye on any of their vulnerable neighbours, who may be targeted by these rogue traders, and reporting any suspicious door step trading activity.
 
David Sayer, Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit Manager said: “If consumers do engage with doorstep traders, they should always get a full written quotation with the trader’s full name and postal address.
 
“In circumstances where the work is quoted at £42 or over, consumers are entitled to a 14 day cooling off period by law. Genuine traders will abide by the laws and have no problem with giving you time to think about things, providing full written quotations and returning at a later date at your request.”
 
If you’re unsure about a doorstep trader call 03454 04 05 06 and discuss the matter with the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, before handing over any money. Never let a trader take you to the bank or a cash point to withdraw money. If you ever feel threatened in any way by a trader calling at your door, you should call the police immediately on 999.
 
If you feel that you need work carrying out at your house you should use a reliable local trader who is registered as part of the Northumberland and North Tyneside Registered Trader Scheme. Details of the scheme can be found at www.traderregister.org.uk   
 
 
The following tips are useful when someone comes to your door:
  • Do not let anyone you don’t know into your home.  If in doubt keep them out.  You might think it’s rude to refuse entry to someone who turns up at your door but it is your home and your decision who you deal with.
  • Ask to see the caller’s ID card and call the company to see if they are genuine.  To be safe, look up the company number yourself rather than trust the number on the ID card.
  • Set up a password with your gas and electricity providers so that you can be sure these callers are genuine.  Contact your utility company to arrange this.
  • Where possible use a trader that has been recommended by family or friends.
  • Use approval schemes, such as the Northumberland and North Tyneside Registered Trader Scheme at www.traderregister.org.uk  to find approved traders in your area.
  • Check credentials, including a permanent business address and landline telephone number. The mobile phone numbers given on business cards are often pay-as-you-go numbers which are virtually impossible to trace.
  • Take control by asking the questions. Ask for references from previous customers or to see examples of their work.
  • Do not sign for or agree to work on the spot – shop around. Get at least three written quotes to make sure you’re not being ripped off.
  • Don’t pay until the work is finished.
  • If in any doubt, ask the person to leave.
 
 
What should you do if you’ve been a victim of bogus tradesmen fraud?
  • Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
  • Notify the police so they can attempt to locate the offenders and warn other residents.
  • You can report the salesperson to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on    03454 040506 if you believe they have sold you faulty, inferior or overpriced products or services or have issues with the terms and conditions of any agreement or contract you may have signed
  • If you’ve made the payment by credit/debit card or by cheque, contact your credit card company and/or bank and advise them that you’re a victim of improper door-to-door sales techniques and your identity or financial details may have been compromised. They’ll advise you on cancelling payments and ensuring your finances remain secure.