Bogus callers alert
Doorstep crime increases during the winter months due to bogus callers and rogue traders taking advantage of our need for a safe, warm and dry home during bad weather.
When rain, sleet or snow sets in it can be difficult, especially for vulnerable residents, to check their property is in good order.
So when they are told by an individual posing as a legitimate workman that they have a tile missing, or that their chimney is in danger of falling down and killing someone, they struggle to argue and feel compelled to have the work done.
And with most of us at home due to the latest Covid lockdown, unscrupulous traders know there is a greater chance of finding someone in who will answer the door or be tempted by a flyer through the letterbox.
Of course, winter is also the time of year where genuine issues become more apparent, such as a leaking roof or gutters, or if more urgent work is needed after extreme weather. Distressed residents may become more tempted to contact a stranger who posted a flyer through their door.
Fraudsters will often do shoddy or unnecessary work for hugely inflated fees, or simply take money for a job they have no intention of carrying out. In many cases, the property is left in a worse condition than before with the home owner facing additional costs to rectify the damage.
Fred Wilson, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services at Buckinghamshire Council, said: ‘With a lockdown, fraudsters may think it’s an ideal opportunity to catch vulnerable people stuck at home and pile on the pressure for a job.
‘However I would encourage residents to get in contact with our team if they are concerned, want to report anything suspicious or just want to get one of our free information packs.’
He added: ‘By taking a few simple precautions, we can all freeze out cold-callers this winter.’
Trading Standards bosses offer the following top tips to avoid getting tricked out of your money:
- Be sceptical, do not be afraid to say ‘no thank you, please leave’ and shut the door.
- Take your time, don not be rushed.
- Know with whom who you are dealing; if you need help, talk to someone you know or contact the council.
- Protect your financial information, especially from people unknown to you.
- Never engage with someone or allow them access to your home unless you are able to verify their authenticity and who they are.
The council is urging all householders to only use Trading Standards approved traders: traders4u.co.uk.
If you would like to report a concern or receive one of the council’s No Cold Calling packs, call 0300 123 2329.