Doorstep crime can include anything from a person, usually an older adult, getting ripped off for unwanted work on their property to bogus charity collectors who give the impression they are collecting for legitimate causes.
The links and leaflets on this page give some preventative advice but in general here are some of the things you need to be aware of.
Rogue home improvement and gardening firms
Trading Standards deals with many complaints every year where a householder has been deceived into either thinking their property or garden needs some work, or they have had some work done that is substandard and overpriced.
Typically such firms will leaflet an area advertising work or may just knock on your door saying that your property needs repair and they can do it there and then for a reduced price. At the best, what they do may be worthless and cost far too much. At the worst, they have been known to make increasing demands for money, even driving householders to their banks as they become more threatening.
Think carefully about agreeing to a deal on the spot. It is always better to shop around and compare quotes. Use a reputable firm that you are happy you will be able to contact again should any faults need putting right.
Our Trustmark – choosing a reliable tradesperson webpage offers help and advice about choosing a reliable tradesperson.
Many people rely on doorstep sellers to provide them with goods and services. Local milkmen, window cleaners and people making catalogue sales often provide a worthwhile local service.
Be wary, however, of sellers who may offer goods and services that you would not ordinarily expect to buy on the doorstep, especially high value items such as carpets or furniture. Are you sure you are getting what you are paying for and that you know whom you are dealing with? Many such sellers are travelling traders with no fixed business address that give you no means of tracing them when things go wrong. Also be wary of traders offering to buy such things as gold and antiques on your doorstep, you may get a better price on the high street.
For information on the Digital Switchover in Wales, including whether or not new equipment is needed, visit the DigitalUK website.
Bogus charity collectors
It is usual these days to get "charity" flyers and collection bags posted through the door asking for your old clothing and bric a brac for charitable purposes. Some of these are from recognised national and local charities and do provide a worthwhile source of charity funds.
However, some are from commercial collectors who will sell your items on for a profit. Often the bogus collectors give the impression that they are collecting for charity by mentioning a worthwhile cause that plays on householder's consciences. A close look at the small print will reveal that they may only give a small proportion of the profits away, if any at all, and that they are actually a limited company.
Larger charities will be registered with the Charity Commission and a check can be done on their website to see if collectors are legitimate. House to house collectors (who pick up donations from doorsteps) need to be licensed by the local authority. Street collectors (who collect money door to door) also need to be licensed. For further information, see our Give With Care Leaflet (PDF 1mb)
"No cold calling zones"
"No cold calling zones" aim to decrease doorstep crime incidents by specifying a zone in which doorstep callers are not welcome.
Zones need to have three criteria before they can be set up:
- A history of doorstep crime or distraction burglary
- A vulnerable population
- A defined geographical area
Trading Standards can work with Neighbourhood Policing Teams to examine whether a zone can be set up in your area. Contact 01495 235291 for more information.
Dealing with doorstep callers
- Be wary of any business literature that only gives a mobile phone number. They are difficult to trace. Look for a landline.
- Remember that you often have cancellation rights if you do agree to having work done or buying services when in your home. We have produced a guidance document and example cancellation contract that you may find helpful.
You're right to cancel (PDF 37kb)
- ID Cards are very easy to fake on a computer. Use a phone number from the yellow pages or directory enquires to call the head office and see if the caller is genuine. Never trust a number given to you by the caller, there could be an accomplice at the end of the phone.
- Consider setting up a password with your utility suppliers. Meter readers, and other employees, have to give the password to gain entry to your property.
- Trading Standards and Gwent Police support a 'Nominated Neighbour' scheme whereby vulnerable members of the community can nominate a neighbour who will check the callers' identity and then return with the caller. A poster to place in your window is available to download below:
Nominated Neighbour Poster (PDF 2.1mb)
- If you feel afraid, harassed, threatened or intimidated by a caller, call the Police on 999 straight away.
- Trading Standards work closely with the Police to investigate all doorstep crimes. Call us if you have any concerns.