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Police and partners target rogue traders

Dorset Police joined forces with partner agencies this week to target rogue traders and pushy doorstep sellers who use fraud to con vulnerable people into paying for unnecessary or vastly overpriced work to their homes.

On Wednesday 9 April 2014, Safer Neighbourhood teams and officers from the Road Traffic Unit teamed up with Trading Standards officers to actively stop any tradesperson they saw working on houses or in gardens.

This day of action was part of a week of activities taking places across the UK, led by Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit for distraction burglary and associated travelling criminality, and Trading Standards. 

The aim of the week was to identify and arrest rogue traders, to disrupt the activity of rogue trading and to make communities aware of this type of crime.

Rogue traders are individuals or groups of people who cold-call householders, often targeting vulnerable residents, claiming to be a bona fide business and purporting to offer services, most commonly buildings maintenance and repair.

The offenders charge excessive fees for the work, yet the work that is carried out is either sub-standard or not carried out at all.

Crime prevention and design advisor for Dorset Police, Debbie Oldfield, said: “We actively supported this national day of action by working with Trading Standards officers to approach tradespeople carrying out work on homes across Dorset.

“Anyone found to be conning victims into paying for unnecessary or vastly overpriced work are dealt with accordingly.

“If you feel that you have been a victim of a rogue trader please do not feel embarrassed. Contact Dorset Police or Trading Standards and report it.

“By working together we can try to stop this sort of heinous crime.”

Steve Playle, Trading Standards institute lead officer for doorstep crime, said: “The activities of cold calling home maintenance rogues are often linked to the activities of distraction burglars and all the evidence shows that it is the elderly and vulnerable who are deliberately targeted by this crime.  The simple message from Trading Standards is to always say 'no' to any traders offering to carry out work who unexpectedly turn up on your doorstep.”

If you receive an unexpected call at your door from someone offering to do work, please follow the below advice:

Always remember to put the chain on the door before opening it.

Do not phone any telephone number provided by the caller, it could be bogus.

Always check the caller’s identity by phoning the number in the telephone book. Shut the door and get them to wait outside. A genuine caller will be happy to wait.

Never agree to any work offered on the doorstep, no matter how urgent the caller says it is.

Always get three quotes for work and if possible get recommendations from family and friends.

Never pay cash upfront.

A trader must provide you with cancellation rights in writing.

If you are concerned or intimidated by a caller at your door then please call Dorset Police on 999.

For more information, or to report anything suspicious, please call Dorset Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

To find a trader you can trust visit http://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/. And for more information and advice call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.

ISSUED: 11 April 2014