2nd March 2016

Doorstep Crime

Rogue traders are active across London – if you’re not sure don’t open the door

You can help protect yourself with some common simple precautions;

  • Use a door chain so you can check who’s calling
  • Don’t trade on the door step
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member for advice on reputable traders
  • Display a sticker visible to callers saying “No cold calling”
  • Report suspicious activity to Police or Citizens Advice

 

Tell tale signs

Rogue traders will call uninvited and may offer to do work on your home. Typically they may mention your roof, driveway, or garden needs attention. These criminals often target older, more vulnerable members of the community and can turn from appearing to being very helpful and friendly to being extremely intimidating.

Often they will demand much more money than any price first mentioned, disappearing once you've paid them without finishing a job properly or sometimes not even starting it at all. Incidents involving elderly people being escorted to their bank to withdraw tens of thousands of pounds are not unusual.

Don’t believe them!

Another tactic is to fraudulently gain access to your property and then invent some problem that needs urgent attention. For example they may tell you they are working on your neighbour's property and need access to yours to check a leak or some other problem. Do not believe such stories - no matter how plausible they seem, these criminals are very good at conning.

Dealing with unexpected callers

London Trading Standards advice is simply not to answer the door to anyone you are not expecting. However, if you do then just say ‘no’. Tell them you have a friend or relative that can sort any problems, if they persist tell them to leave or you will call the Police. Make sure you have a security chain on your door and always use it. You may be able to get one fitted free by Police crime prevention or victim support.

Don't be fooled by any dodgy sales talk such as:

  • We’re working around the corner and noticed a loose tile on your roof
  • We are in your area and it’s a special price if you agree today
  • I've just done a job for your neighbour
  • We've got material left over from another job

Remember - reputable traders really don’t need to knock on doors to get work.

What if I do want some work done?

You should not be making decisions about buying goods or services on the doorstep as you will have no chance to shop around and compare quotes or prices. The law does give you extra rights about cancellation of contracts made in your home or away from business premises but in practice it is best not to agree to anything in the first place. Rogue traders and fraudsters are not the sort of people who give refunds.

If you do need home improvements done then it’s always a good idea to go by personal recommendation and get a number of written quotes.  Some Boroughs such as Greenwich and Southwark run or recommend reputable trader schemes so it’s worth checking with your local council website too. You may also wish to refer to:

Other commercially run schemes such as Which? Trusted Traders and Checkatrade are also easy to find on the internet.  Please note London Trading Standards are unable to recommend any particular trader and any decision to appoint one rests solely with the customer. We cannot guarantee or accept responsibility for any work undertaken by traders appearing on these lists.

What are London Trading Standards doing?

One of our priorities is to combat and frustrate the activities of doorstep criminals. We support the national 'Doorstoppers' campaign and our initiatives across London include:

  • Working with local banks and building societies to alert them to signs that a customer may be the victim of a doorstep crime
  • Promoting reputable trader schemes and other similar lists
  • Distributing targeted advice and information
  • Offering educational talks to community groups
  • Helping residents set up No Cold Calling Control Zones (NCCCZs)
  • Supporting national rogue trader days of action
  • Prosecuting rogue traders under fraud and unfair trading legislation
Who should I tell about suspect callers?
  • If you think rogue traders or other doorstep criminals are active in your area then don't hesitate to call the police to let them know. If it is an emergency i.e. a crime is happening, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, someone is injured, being threatened or in danger, then always call 999.  For non-emergencies and crime prevention advice please dial 101.
  • If you spot any vehicles being used then passing on the registration plate details is always useful information.
  • If you have a neighbourhood watch scheme tell the co-ordinators so that they can alert other residents.
  • If you think you've been a victim of a doorstep crime contact your local police or the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.