Do you need oven gloves or tea towels? Trading Standards urges residents to beware cold callers who are targeting vulnerable people – often telling sob stories of being ex-prisoners or working on probation schemes.
No such projects are known to exist.
This well-known scam often involves young men with holdalls going door to door, trying to sell poor-quality dusters, dishcloths and sprays, and flashing fake permits or licences.
Cold callers can often be very persuasive, spinning yarns about being down on their luck. Scammers want you to open the door so they assess the home and note promising addresses, which could then be passed to burglars for cash.
Doug Love, Senior Trading Standards Officer at H&F, said: “Don’t deal with cold callers. Full stop. At its most innocent, they’re people selling overpriced goods. But at the more sinister end, it’s assessing the potential for far more serious crimes.”
He is also raising awareness of rogue builders, after a Fulham woman was tricked out of more than £10,000. “A decent builder or handyman is going to be too busy to go round houses, cold-calling,” he said.
BBC Radio London interview
Displaying a ‘No uninvited traders’ poster, using smart doorbells with built-in cameras, or door chain for unexpected callers can deter crooks.
If you do answer the door, tell persistent salespeople that you’ll check with someone else first, offer to take a leaflet or a phone number, then firmly close the door. A genuine salesperson will always accept that you need time to make a decision.
If you do need work doing around the home, ask friends or neighbours for suggestions of reputable traders, and always get several quotes for work. Door stickers can reinforce the message that you do not want cold calls.
Bogus callers look for tell-tale signs such as handrails by the front door to target vulnerable people.
“If you don’t know who’s knocking, don’t open the door or use a door chain,” said Doug. “We need to warn people, especially elderly residents, from being as trusting as they are. The successful scammers are the charming, persuasive ones.”
Trading Standards can supply ‘No uninvited traders’ stickers on request via firstname.lastname@example.org
Or check the full information on doorstep scams on our website.
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