Cold-calling in The Meadows was uncovered as part of national Rogue Traders Week.
A seller was walking door-to-door in the Aldermens Close area and residents were visited by Community Protection officers at Nottingham City Council during the week of action from 15 May to 19 May.
The intelligence had been gathered by the authority’s Trading Standards team which arranged for more than 500 warning leaflets to be posted to local homes, as well as informing the public more widely through social media platforms and partner agencies.
Officers were targeting fraudulent and forceful doorstep sellers as part of the operation. This individual was knocking on doors and trying to sell kitchen items and garden equipment.
As well as supporting businesses to offer legitimate and fair services, Rogue Trader Week aims to educate people on spotting a scam and how to report it. Examples of this include:
- Offering to provide goods or services which are of poor quality or deliberately overcharged;
- Quoting for unnecessary work;
- Damaging property deliberately in order to obtain money;
- Leaving work unfinished;
- Intimidating behaviour in order to extort money.
It is known that the offenders often travel large distances to commit crime and some exchange information with other criminals.
Very few traders have a legitimate reason for turning up at a property unannounced and without an appointment. While buying on the doorstep can be convenient, a salesperson who uses clever tactics can often pressure residents into buying something they don’t want or of poor quality.
Uninvited visitors may seem professional, friendly or even official, but Trading Standards advises not to deal with them as they could be con artists or organised criminals.
If work, goods or services are agreed with a trader who calls at a property, it’s important to be clear that:
- If it costs more than £42, they must provide a written notice giving 14 days in which the customer can change their mind and request a refund;
- If this cancellation notice is not provided, then even if goods have been provided or work has been carried out, it may not have to be paid for;
- A trader who ignores a request to leave and not to return may be committing a criminal offence. Stickers marked ‘no cold calling’, available by calling 0808 223 1133, can be placed in the front window.
Councillor Sajid Mohammed, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion at Nottingham City Council, said: “Doorstep crime is often subtle and mostly affects the older and more vulnerable population. On occasions, residents can be taken to banks, building societies and post offices to make unusual, large cash withdrawals under duress.
“This is a very serious issue as the cash is being handed over to rogue traders for unnecessary works. It is despicable that vulnerable people are targeted in this way and conned out of money and, sometimes, life savings.
“Anyone looking for work to be carried out on their home should always get at least three quotes from different traders to compare prices, and remember to ask for recommendations from friends or family.
“The best way to avoid a rogue trader is to not answer the door if you’re not expecting a visitor. If you are suspicious, you can call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 and give a description of them and any vehicle you see them using.”