When someone tries to sell you something or gets you to sign up for something in your home, someone else’s home or your place of work, they may be a genuine salesperson, but sometimes it’s a scam. This is known as doorstep crime.
Sometimes thieves turn up on your doorstep claiming to be there on official business. They may say they are from the council, that they’re a police officer or are there to read your gas or electricity meter. Once you’ve let them into your home, they distract your attention and steal money or goods, often by having a second person working with them.
If someone turns up unexpectedly on your doorstep like this, always check out their ID before letting them in. If they don’t have ID, don’t let them in.
Call the relevant organisation, for example the council, using a number from the phone book or internet. Don’t use a number on the trader’s ID card. Real officials should be happy to wait. If you are not happy after this, ask them to call and make an appointment or come back another time. You may wish to have a friend or relative with you when they come back.
Some organisations, like energy companies, have password schemes for you to check you are speaking to someone from the real company.
For more information about this, click here.
If a trader says they belong to a professional organisation, such as the Federation of Master Builders, check this out with the professional organisation by ringing them or looking on their website, to see if this is true. It is an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 if they lie about this.
If you are caught out:
If you think you've been a victim of doorstep crime, you can get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline. They should be able to help you to identify whether the trader has broken the law or whether you have any other rights, such as for a breach of contract.
If you've fallen for a scam like this, you should report it to the Police and you can also report it on the Action Fraud website, which is run by the Police.
If you have been tricked into changing energy suppliers.
To report doorstep crime click here
To report a problem to Trading Standards click here
Member since: 10th July 2012
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are community initiatives that are supported by the police but not owned or run by them.