An initiative to help residents protect themselves from the perils of doorstep crime is being launched by London Trading Standards.
The timing of the new campaign is imperative as the problem is currently escalating across parts of the capital.
Doorstep crime is defined as bogus callers and rogue traders calling uninvited at homes under the guise of being a legitimate business or tradesman.
London Trading Standards (LTS) has produced a universal booklet filled with information on what to look out for, ways to stay alert and who to contact if you’re concerned.
It’s the first time such a guide has been produced offering advice on how to tackle the problem.
Don’t Deal At The Door
Chair of LTS, Nishi Patel, said: “These people knock on your door then lie, cheat and trick you into giving them money for work they say needs doing in your house or garden. This work is often unnecessary, and prices charged are exorbitant.
“London Trading Standards strongly advises residents never to deal with cold callers on your doorstep.”
With the recent massive increases in gas and electricity prices, there are more rogue traders offering insulation, double glazing, solar panels and heat pumps.
The work they say needs to be done usually relates to property maintenance, such as roofing, guttering, driveways, general building work and gardening. They may have put a card or leaflet through your letterbox advertising their services and will often find additional work that unnecessarily ‘needs’ to be carried out.
Some doorstep callers pretend to be somebody official, perhaps from a water or gas company or the council, saying that urgent work needs to be undertaken.
Matt Allwright, journalist and broadcaster, is supporting the campaign to better protect consumers and residents in London.
He said: “I’ve seen first-hand the damage that doorstep crime does – not just to their bank balance, but to their self-esteem, confidence and faith in the world. I’m so pleased to see London’s Boroughs taking action to stamp it out. Too many household have experienced the heartbreak of being the targets of crime in their own home, and I want to be part of whatever can be done to reduce the huge harm it causes.”
The doorstep crimes booklet includes 12 tips to protect residents, including asking questions such as your right to cancel, setting passwords for expected official callers and reporting suspicious behaviour.
LaToya Ridge from Victims Support attended the launch and said: “For victims of fraud, it might not be a violent crime but it hurts nonetheless. People find it really hard to discuss the matter, which can make it really hard to deal with the impact.”
Concerns can be shared by contacting LTS here or via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service reporting line on 0808 223 1133.
There’s also advice on how to find a reputable trader, information on a variety of organisations that can offers support and other useful support.
Bethan Featherby, Senior Trading Standards Office from Westminster City Council, said it’s not just doorstep traders people should be wary of: “Many rogue traders will use social media platforms to build fake credibility. It’s therefore important residents research the tradesman they’re going to use.”
To receive a copy of the booklet please contact your local Trading Standards team or download a copy from the London Trading Standards website below.