Good neighbours really do stop rogue traders and in National Consumer Week 2014 (beginning Monday 3rd November), Warwickshire’s Consumer Empowerment Partnership is seeking to highlight how neighbours, family, friends and carers can help protect vulnerable people living in their communities.
David Gooding, Chair of the Warwickshire Consumer Empowerment Partnership said: “We know how devastating a visit from a rogue trader can be to a vulnerable person, often leaving them in great amount of distress as well as hundreds or thousands of pounds out of pocket.”
“Doorstep criminals can be extremely persuasive and even threatening, convincing vulnerable people to pay excessive amounts for poor workmanship on jobs that often don’t even need doing!”
“In this national week, we want to help the friends, family, neighbours and carers of vulnerable people to know how to spot a rogue trader and the actions to take to protect a potential victim.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Les Caborn, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “There may be as many of 170,000 victims of rogue traders each year, but doorstep crime is massively underreported and once more, many of the victims are targeted again and again.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Chattaway, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added: “In this year’s National Consumer Week we’re going to be providing a huge wealth of information and advice to support communities to help make Warwickshire a no-go area for rogue doorstep traders .I am concerned that we do not have true picture of this type of offence about would also ask that if you are victim of a doorstep crime that you report it to the police.”
There is a range of ‘work’ that rogue traders offer including, repairing broken tiles, re-pointing brickwork, cleaning guttering, painting roofs (claiming it insulates them), gardening/tree felling and driveway tarmacking.
They may claim that work needs doing, when it does not or falsely suggest that they are working for a local council or have done work on a neighbour’s property already.
Rogue traders rarely give their real names and addresses, (often using false or accommodation addresses local to the area) and often use mobile numbers that can be difficult to trace. However, they do sometimes use very professional and glossy looking flyers with web addresses to make them appear legitimate.
There are a number of signs an unwanted doorstep caller is visiting a neighbour:
- Traders have been cold calling in the area
- A builder’s van is parked nearby, particularly one that doesn’t include a company name or contact details
- Building or maintenance work on your neighbour’s garden or house starts unexpectedly
- Poor quality work (including work that appears unnecessary) is visible on the roof, driveway, or property
- Your neighbour appears anxious or distressed
- Your neighbour visits the bank, building society, or post office more frequently, particularly if they are accompanied by a trader
What can I do?
- Ask your neighbour in private — in person or on the phone — if things are OK
- If they are displeased, suggest calling a relative or carer on their behalf
- Note any vehicle registration numbers
- Keep hold of any flyers you have received through your door
- Ask if the trader has left any paperwork and put it in a clean food bag
- If you suspect a crime, call Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 and in addition, report the matter to the Police.
- If the situation with the trader becomes volatile, always call the Police.
Further information on rogue traders is available here: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/scams