Please see the following from:
Colin I. FreemanMITOL Essex Watch Liaison Officer - West LPA Member: Essex Security & Fire Protection Association
Don’t be fooled
Rogue traders are people who call at your door pretending to be qualified tradespeople and offering to do work on your home. They may seem friendly and persuasive but too often they target vulnerable elderly people and carry out poor quality household repairs to roofs and driveways
They may claim to know your neighbours and have done work for them but often the work they promise to complete didn't need doing in the first place.
Essex Police are working with Essex County Counciland Age UK Essex as part of a campaign to warn residents to'Be Sure at the Door'.
You decide whether you need any work done to our house, not them. Free fridge magnets with advice on how to avoid cold callers are available from your local library and GP surgery.
If you think you've been taken in by a rogue trader, please let us know by calling 101, contacting Trading Standards on 08454 040 506 or talk to a friend or relative.
Take a look at our advice to make sure you don't fall victim to a rogue trader.
A genuine trader won't:-
- Call without an appointment
- Ask you to go to the bank to withdraw cash or make a money transfer
- Offer to take you to the bank to withdraw cash for payment
- Ask you to pay in full before the work is complete
- Insist that you make a decision about the work they're offering to do on the spot
- Bully or scare you into doing the work
If you do think you need some work doing:-
- Contact a Buy With Confidence accredited trader
- Get a number of quotes
- Get a written estimate detailing exactly what work will be carried out, how much it will cost and what the terms of payment are
- Take your time to make sure you’re happy with what you’re undertaking – ask a trusted friend/relative for advice or ring the Buy with Confidence number 08454 040506.
As well as calling at your door and offering to carry out work on your home, other rogue traders try to sell poor quality goods for highly inflated prices.
It can be difficult to refuse some sales people on your doorstep and you can be pressured into buying something you do not want or that is not good value for money.
It is your doorstep and your decision and we would advise people to follow a few simple steps to help them handle any high pressure techniques.
1. Check the trader’s identity: were you expecting them? If not, but you are interested in what they are selling, ask them to come back at a more convenient time and try to have another person with you.
2. Take control: you ask the questions and try to remember that it is a business situation.
3. Be aware that doorstep sellers are not your friends: watch out for clever sales techniques where you may be made to feel like you have lots in common.
4. Don’t sign on the spot: even if it means that you could lose a ‘special discount’. Take time to reflect, think about your purchase and shop around.
5. You have a right to cancel: If you do purchase something for more than £35 from doorstep sales people you have 7 days to change your mind. This information should be given to you in writing by the sales person.
6. If in doubt, ask the person to leave: phone Consumer Direct or Essex County Council Trading Standards on 08454 040 506 for further advice.
You can also contact Essex Police using the non emergency number: 101 if you feel threatened by a sales person in your own home call 999.
Dc Alan Philips said: “Rogue traders often target vulnerable members of the community offering household property services. Using any method to obtain as much money as possible, they will often only do the job to a poor standard or not undertake the work at all."
MORE ON ROGUE TRADERS
Consumers have greater powers to challenge unscrupulous rogue traders and get their money back under new rights.
Consumers now have greater powers to challenge unscrupulous rogue traders and get their money back under new rights which came into force on the 1st October 2014.
Consumers who are bullied or misled into buying services or goods they neither need nor want, will now have a period of up to 90 days to take legal action, under changes delivered by Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson.
Examples could include those who are harassed into home improvements by a door-to-door salesman when they really don’t need it or somebody who is misled into purchasing a mobile phone by false promises on download speeds and network coverage.
This could also extend to when a young person is stopped in the street and misled into parting with hundreds of pounds by promises of a modelling career, or to an elderly person being bullied into paying thousands of pounds for goods they really can’t afford.
The reforms will especially benefit the elderly and vulnerable with National Audit Office figures showing that those over the age of 55 lose an average of nearly £1,100 when they are victims of rogue traders. Crime reporting agency Action Fraud estimates that consumers suffer detriment of at least £6.6 billion every year due to unfair trading.
Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:
The vast majority of businesses treat consumers fairly and provide a great service. However, a few bad apples have damaged the reputation of good business, broken the law and treated customers as a cash cow.
This is why we are providing consumers with new powers to challenge rogue businesses and giving people the confidence to take action when they have been bullied or misled.
If anyone thinks they’ve been bullied or misled into buying something the best thing to do is try and sort the issue out directly with the company and if that doesn’t work then contact Citizens Advice on 08444 111 444. They are an excellent source of advice and guidance.
The new rights will introduce:
- A new 90 day period for victims to get out of a contract. Beyond this period consumers will still be able to get a discount on the price paid, as much as 100% depending on the actions of the trader. At present there is no right to a discount. Consumers can currently seek damages in the civil courts but it is extremely complex
- A right to damages for any additional losses or stress suffered as a result of the actions of the trader
- A brand new right to take personal action through the civil court for misleading or aggressive demands for payment, for example aggressive or misleading debt collection. At present there is no legislative right for consumers to do this
An example of a case where the new rights could be used is where an elderly person with mobility issues is approached by a company offering to make adaptions to their bathroom.
A company salesman uses high pressure selling techniques to convince the consumer that they need more than just a new shower, and offer other products including a new toilet and sink. The consumer signs up for a loan agreement but is not given a proper explanation about what it involves.
Work on the bathroom is carried out and is completed to a very poor standard and the consumer is left facing a huge debt totalling thousands of pounds.
From 1st October 2014, the consumer in this case will be able to exercise their right to get out of the agreement they have been pressured into signing up to. They will be able to claim for compensation for the stress caused by being misled about the quality of the work.
The new rights form part of the government’s radical overhaul of the UK’s consumer landscape to make sure consumer law is easier for consumers to understand. It includes a new Consumer Rights Bill to streamline key consumer rights covering contracts for goods, services, digital content and the law relating to unfair terms in consumer contracts in one place. The bill is currently going through Parliament.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice said:-
Dishonest and aggressive salespeople are ripping off innocent consumers. In the last year alone, the Citizens Advice consumer service helped with 85,000 problems caused by misleading claims and shoddy sales practices. It’s good for consumers that, under the new protections, people in these circumstances will now be able to cancel contracts or get money back.
Most people who call at your home will be genuine but it’s important to be on your guard and remember there are bogus callers about.
These are people who turn up unannounced with the intention of tricking their way into your home to steal.
Too many people have been fooled into letting callers through the front door only to discover their valuables have been stolen while they were distracted.
Fraudsters may also try to steal money over the telephone. Thieves posing as police officers have stolen large sums of money in a number of recent incidents targeting elderly people.
Bogus callers are creative and their reasons for needing entry into your home can seem plausible, but be cautious.
The person whose car has broken down and needs to use your phone to call the recovery service may not be who they seem.
More complex scams involve people pretending to be from utility companies and needing access to your home.
These people often work in pairs. While one person distracts the homeowner, the other gains entry to your home to steal. Typical scenarios include stories of an emergency gas or water leak.
Over the telephone callers may pretend to be police officers or bank officials, who tell victims that thieves have had access to their bank accounts. They may try to reassure victims that they are genuine by telling them to hang up and dial 999. When they hang up the thief stays on the line, before 'answering' the 999 call. They then ask victims to withdraw large amounts of cash and send it to them in a taxi so that they can check the notes for fingerprints. DON’T BE FOOLED!
Don’t let anybody in your home that you don’t want there. It’s about common sense. If you don’t like the look of them, don’t let them in.
Representatives from water, gas and electric companies are unlikely to call at your home without an appointment and police are likely to be present if there is a real emergency.
If you don’t want callers in your home, tell them. If they fail to listen you should contact the Police on 999
Police or bank officials would never call you by telephone and ask for your full bank details or ask you to withdraw large sums of cash.
Follow our advice to stay safe:-
- If you receive a phone call asking for your bank details or for large sums of cash call police from a different phone, for example a neighbours, or wait 5 minutes and be sure you hear a dial tone before dialling.
- Don’t be frightened to ask for identification and always check it carefully. If you’re not sure, ask them to come back another day.
- Think about installing a door chain and use it. Keep the door on the chain until you’ve seen identification.
- If you need your glasses to read the identification, close the door before going to find them. Don’t leave the door open and unattended.
- Always remember to lock the back door before opening the front.
- Don’t be pressured into letting someone into your home if you have suspicions.
- Don’t keep large amounts of cash in the house.
- Don’t believe scare stories. Not all callers are genuine.