London Trading Standards hear of hundreds of examples of ‘Doorstep crime’ each year, and many hundreds of other instances will never be reported.  The criminal activity will include rogue builders overcharging for unnecessary, poor-quality work and distraction burglars who will seek to gain entry with a view to immediately stealing money or valuables, or to ‘case the joint’ with a view to returning later. Victims may be left scared and out of pocket.

Many people are happy to answer the door to anyone, feeling they will be able to deal with whoever is calling and confident – rightly or wrongly – that they are too canny to be conned.

If you live alone, or are elderly or otherwise vulnerable, this may not be the case, but which ever group you fall into, there are certain ‘rules’ you should consider following.

  • If you feel concerned for any reason, do not answer the door.
  • It is relatively cheap to get a door chain or intercom fitted, so that you can speak to callers securely.  If you have one, use it.
  • If it is someone trying to sell you goods or services, firmly tell them that you do not buy from the door.  This conversation should be unnecessary, but is easier, if you display a notice saying this.
  • Anyone ignoring a notice like this should be reported to your local Trading Standards Team.

Sometimes the caller will be – or claim to be – an official of some sort and maybe even ask to come in.

  • All Police and other law enforcement officers will carry official id and be happy for you to call their organisations to check their credentials.  Always do this – criminals will often carry fake ID cards.
  • Callers from utility companies and the Council will also carry checkable credentials.  If the call is arranged, you can the ask the organisation to ensure the person calling can give you an agreed password.
  • NEVER let anyone into your home if you feel uncomfortable no one has a right to enter unless they have an entry warrant issued by a Magistrate.  Genuine callers can always make an arrangement to come back, maybe when family or friends can also be present.

It is often too late to do anything to help victims by the time Trading Standards hears about doorstep crime, so please report any instances of people calling unexpectedly or other suspicious behaviour to your local Trading Standards Team (contact details will be on your local Council website) and stay safe by remembering the advice given above.

LTS has published further information on-line here: Doorstep Crime – London Trading Standards; and a booklet, ‘Don’t Deal at the Door’ (with the ‘no uninvited traders’ notice on the back), which is available from your local Trading Standards team (details will be found on the council website).

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