Trading Standards Officers and the Police hear from hundreds of Londoners who are victims of criminals calling at their homes – some of whom have lost thousands of pounds or have been left frightened to live in their own home. Many hundreds more will be too embarrassed to report the crime.
Often it is rogue builders – who will typically say they are working in the area; or that they have spotted something wrong with your roof; or offer to do a small, cheap job, like cleaning gutters for a few quid, before the work ‘needed’ and amount it will cost is rapidly increased.
There are many other scams also, including:
- posing as some sort of official seeking entry to your home;
- selling overpriced, not particularly fresh, fish from unrefrigerated vans;
- selling overpriced, poor-quality goods as part of a made-up rehabilitation scheme for ex-offenders;
Our message is IF IN DOUBT, KEEP THEM OUT! Don’t be too trusting.
- If a leaflet from an out-of-area company offering building, driveway or gardening services is dropped through you letterbox, please report it to your local Trading Standards team, but do not contact the trader. (Some independent local traders will use leaflets, but even these should only be approached if you know people who have used them successfully).
- If someone knocks, do not open the door fully until you have verified who they are and why they are there: it is much easier to tell them you don’t buy from callers if the door is closed or on a chain. If you are displaying a sign warning that you do not deal with uninvited traders, they may be committing an offence.
- If it is someone who may be genuine, ask to see their identification. Genuine callers will be happy to pass it to you. Then, search for the company’s telephone number yourself and phone them to check.
If you have made a mistake and allowed them in, seek help immediately – from the Police, Trading Standards, or neighbours: the longer they are there, the higher the risk to your property and your wellbeing.
LTS has published further information on-line here: Doorstep Crime – London Trading Standards; a booklet, ‘Don’t Deal at the Door’; and the ‘uninvited traders’ sticker. All should be available from your local Trading Standards team (details will be found on the council website).