Doorstep Crime can affect anyone, but often elderly and vulnerable people are targeted by Rogue Traders offering home improvement services, or by Bogus Callers who claim to be from the council, police, health carers, market researchers or utility and phone companies, insulation and solar panel companies.
Such callers may offer services such as window/gutter cleaning, path and driveway repairs, roofing or building work, gardening and tree lopping or even persuade residents that they must come inside their homes to ‘check something’. They can be very persuasive and convincing in their approach and in what they say. It is easy to be taken in.
Trading Standards has always been concerned with preventing, investigating and solving these types of crimes.
Types of Doorstep crime
There are many forms of doorstep crime, the main types being:
- distraction burglary
- bogus callers/officials
- high pressure doorstep selling and rogue traders.
Due to the nature of these crimes, we work closely with the police to combat this intrusive and often upsetting crime. Doorstep crime is a major issue and a high priority.
Doorstep Callers and Sellers
Some traders who call at your door can be honest and genuine. However, some are not and can be extremely persuasive. Examples of cold calling and doorstep selling include:
- pressure selling
- unfair contracts
- overpriced or substandard home maintenance or improvements
- phoney consumer surveys
- bogus charity collections.
Often services offered through cold calling are:
- home improvements and repairs
- security systems
- mobility aids
- gardening services
- power washing
- tarmac and driveway repairs etc.
They may pressure you to agree for work to be done or to conclude a sale. Remember to always think: If you haven’t asked for it – do you need it?
Rogue doorstep sellers will usually insist on starting the work the same day and will often ask for cash up front. They may offer to take you to the bank or building society so you can get the money out. Listed in the table below are some of the tactics and phrases they may use. We have also listed some of the following problems you may be subjected to if you agree to work of this kind.
You should also always be wary of leaflets posted through your door offering services. These do not guarantee that a trader is genuine. Flyers are cheap and easy to get hold of, this can be just another way the unscrupulous trader will attempt to persuade you to have work done.
|Tactics used||Phrases they may use to convince you to part with your money||Potential problems with trader|
|You’re made to feel grateful||“We are only in the area today”||High prices|
|Made to feel you’ve lots in common||“We were doing a job in the area and we have some materials leftover”||Deposits taken and no work performed|
|There’s a sense of urgency in the offer, ‘one day only’||“I noticed you’ve got a few loose tiles on your roof”||No guarantees|
|You’re made to feel committed||“There have been a lot of burglaries in the area recently”||No address or contact details are given and even if they are they can be false|
Made to feel you’ll be happy
with the product
|“This cut-price special offer is only available if you sign today”||Further cold calls in the future|
|Sold a ‘sob story’ or their livelihood’s in danger||“If you pay cash we will give you a discount”|
What to do if faced with a cold caller
- If you are not expecting anyone to call, use a window or spy hole to see who is knocking. If it is not someone you know don’t answer the door
- If you do get caught by someone either on the doorstep or whilst you are in your garden trying to sell you goods or a service, remember you should never enter into a contract without giving yourself time to think about it
- If you are worried by what they are telling you, we recommend that you call in one of Trading Standards Approved traders who will assess the work and give you reliable advice
- Never agree to any contract straight away
- Ask for the trader’s contact details and state you will get back to them if you decide to have the work done
- If you do agree to having work done by someone who has just knocked your door and then have second thoughts contact the Police on 101 or Trading Standards on 01983 823000 option 1 immediately so that we can help you
- They may offer to take you to the bank to withdraw the cash to pay them – no honest trader would behave in this way. Do not do go with them
- Having a door chain is a good preventative measure – when someone knocks at your door by using the chain they are talking to you through a small gap this makes it difficult for them, but easy for you to shut the door
- Having a sticker on your door indicating that you do not buy goods and services at the door may not stop them knocking but is the first indication by you that you do not want them to call and helps in any investigation. You can get a sticker by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or they are available from Southern Vectis shops in Newport and Ryde.
- Blue Lamp Trust can install safety chains.
Crack down on suspicious cold callers
If you have any suspicions about a cold caller, they will more than likely continue knocking on doors in your neighbourhood until they find someone who may be vulnerable. If we or the police don’t know about them – we can’t do anything. If someone suspicious calls at your door, always report it telling us a description of the vehicle and its registration and anything you remember about the trader. Phone 01983 823000 and select option 1, or call the Police on 101 to help safeguard your community. Don’t put yourself in danger, just tell us what you can see safely.
If you do happen to get caught off guard and a cold caller does talk you into having work done, let us know about it as soon as possible. If they are working outside, use your home phone from indoors. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, the sooner we know about it, the better chance we have of catching them and stopping them from conning other vulnerable residents.
Cold callers, if in doubt keep them out!
Some of the information on this page links back to our council website (iow.gov.uk)