As part of Doorstep Crime Week, West Yorkshire Trading Standards is reminding residents to be vigilant when doing business on the doorstep. The regional campaign, covering the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber, is highlighting how consumers can people can protect themselves, and others, from rogue traders.
Now that the nights are drawing in, Trading Standards is asking people to be extra cautious, offering tips on the steps that can be taken when dealing with traders who turn up unannounced on their doorstep. Rogue Traders will often offer to carry out the work for a low price, but then once the work has started, costs quickly escalate well above the agreed price. Trading Standards advice includes:
Be on guard against those who cold-call at your door – they could be a rogue trader. If in doubt don’t open the door.
Never forget that you can close the door and end any conversation you are not comfortable with. It’s your doorstep, your decision.
Be wary of traders trying to get into the house under the guise of needing the toilet or wanting to get a drink. Once inside, a distraction burglary may take place.
Don't be rushed into agreeing to any work. Obtain quotes from elsewhere if you think work is required on your home. Get as much information about the business as you can before you make a decision to have work carried out.
Remember if the contract is made in your own home you have a legal right to a 14 days cooling off period to change your mind and cancel. If the business doesn’t give you this information about these rights they could be a rogue trader.
If you decide to have work carried out never pay cash up front and never let the trader take you to the bank to withdraw any money.
A multi-agency task force based at West Yorkshire Trading Standards the West Yorkshire Financial Exploitation and Abuse Team (WYFEAT), comprising of professionals from Trading Standards, Police and Social Services, investigates doorstep crime and safeguards victims. Linda Davis, Head of WYFEAT said “A charismatic salesperson can be intimidating and it is easy to fall for their charm. This is a skill often used by rogue traders, to convince you to buy something you may not need or agree to terms you haven’t fully checked out. It is not illegal for traders to canvas for work in this way, but it is important that people are cautious and don’t make hasty decisions about agreeing to have work done by traders who come to their doorstep.”
Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Governance and Audit Sub-Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said “Doorstep crime can affect anyone however, rogue traders often prey on elderly and vulnerable people and can have a significant detrimental impact on victims over and above their financial losses. Trading Standards relies on information from members of the public to catch these criminals and bring them to justice. If you are concerned that you or a neighbour may be a victim, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.”