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Beware Rogue Traders

We're asking people to be on the alert for rogue traders and distraction burglars, and particularly to keep a look out for the elderly and vulnerable who are most often the victims of these crimes.

Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of people by using high-pressure sales techniques. Their work is often overpriced, poor quality or not required at all. A distraction burglar is someone who tricks their way into your home and then distracts you while they steal your valuables or cash.

Superintendent Geoff Wessell said: "Rogue traders and distraction burglars are particularly despicable. They prey on the elderly or the vulnerable and the effect on the victim's health and confidence can be devastating. Some people who suffer this kind of crime never fully recover.

"If you do not know who is calling at your home and you didn't invite them there, remember - it's your doorstep and your decision, so be confident, and turn them away."

no cold calling poster

Youngsters from Churchill Academy School give advice on how to help relatives and friends stay safe at home

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Lulling people into a false sense of security before exploiting them is something that will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset. If you're not sure who's at your door you don't have to open it, genuine callers will make an appointment or will happily wait while you check they are from the company they say they are from."

If you make home visits, have customers, or know of vulnerable people living nearby, you are part of their support network. Check out the things you can do to help protect them.

Top Tips on staying safe from rogue traders and distraction burglars:

  • Check the identity of the caller by telephoning the company they claim to be from. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider.
  • Genuine callers won't mind making an appointment for a date when you can have someone with you. This gives you time to check their identity too.
  • Never use companies who make unsolicited calls, who don't provide contracts, or who offer to do work for cash.
  • Call a neighbour or friend nearby to come along and check out the caller before you open the door to them.
  • Many service providers provide password schemes and it can be helpful to sign up to these. When unannounced callers knock at your door they should know the password if they are genuine.
  • Keep doors locked and windows secure at all times.
  • Where possible, have a safety chain fitted and always attach the chain before opening the door to strangers.
  • Remember it's your doorstep, your decision.
  • Check whether traders are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Schemes (www.oft.gov.uk) or the government Trust Mark scheme (www.trustmark.org.uk).
  • The key message is: 'Not sure? Don't open the door'
  • If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door dial 999

How much do you know about your rights? Take our quiz.

1. You have a right to cancel a contract you've entered into at home.

2. You must be given written information on how to cancel any contract you enter into at home.

3. How many days do you have to cancel the contract?

4. Can you cancel a contract once the work has started?

5. You spot a couple of men up a ladder on your elderly neighbour's roof. What would you do?




Did you also know...

  • A trader breaks the law if they visit your home and refuse to leave when requested to do so.
  • Claiming a product is available for a limited time to pressure a sale is illegal.
  • Inaccurately claiming you are at risk if you don't buy goods is illegal.

If you would like any of the materials shown here or more advice on dealing with cold callers please contact your Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101 or via your area.