We’ve received a couple of reports from the Cosham area in the past week regarding suspicious behaviour in which two to three men have knocked on doors offering gardening/building services.
Members of the public have then handed over money or a bank card to the men, paying higher fees than were agreed.
We are urging residents to be extra vigilant and to warn elderly friends and relatives about people coming to their door and offering a service. Door-to-door frauds can take many forms, including pressure selling, unfair contracts and overpriced or substandard home maintenance improvements.
Below are some tips that can help you protect yourself against doorstep fraud:
- Always ask for identification before letting anyone you don't know into your house.
- Check credentials, including a permanent business address and landline telephone number. The mobile phone numbers given on business cards can be pay-as-you-go numbers which are virtually impossible to trace.
- Take control by asking the questions. Ask for references from previous customers or to see examples of their work.
- Don’t sign on the spot – shop around. Get at least three written quotes to make sure you’re not being ripped off.
- If in any doubt, ask the person to leave or call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.
- If you’re suspicious, why not ask the salesman if you can take their photograph – on your mobile phone, for example? If the person is legitimate, they probably won’t mind.
If you do decide to buy:
- Always get any agreement you make in writing.
- Beware when filling in forms or when speaking to the salesperson that you don’t reveal confidential details that a fraudster could use to assume your identity or take control of your finances. This may allow a fraudster to steal money from your account or order goods and services in your name.
- Usually, you have a fourteen-day cooling off period. So if you decide to cancel the contract, act fast.
- Think very carefully about having any work done or goods delivered during the cooling off period. You may have to pay, even if you change your mind.
- Never pay for work before it has been completed, and only then if you are happy with it.
If you think you’ve been the victim of doorstep fraud:
- Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
- You can report the salesperson to the Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or to the National Trading Standards if you believe they have sold you faulty, inferior or overpriced products or services.
- Similarly, you can seek advice from Citizens Advice about the terms and conditions of any agreement or contract you may have signed.
- If you’ve made the payment by credit/debit card or by cheque, contact your credit card company and/or bank and advise them that you’re a victim of improper door-to-door sales techniques and your identity or financial details may have been compromised. They’ll advise you on cancelling payments and ensuring your finances remain secure.