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Public warned to be on their guard to cold callers

Dorset Police and Dorset Trading Standards are encouraging the public to be on their guard – after a number of high pressure cold calls have been reported to the Force.

Since Monday, 30 August 2010, at least 14 incidents of high pressure cold calling have been reported to Dorset Police by concerned residents.

These calls have been made over the phone as well as on residents’ doorsteps across the county – and have predominantly targeted people over the age of 80.

Although criminal offences may not have been committed during the high pressured cold calls, Dorset Police and the County Council’s Trading Standards Service are encouraging members of the public to be on their guard to ensure they do not part with money or sign up to services ‘on the spot’.

Inspector Caroline Quill is from Dorset Police’s Community Engagement department. She said: “These cold callers seem to be targeting older members of our community who they may believe are more likely to agree to the supply of services or equipment. 

“Some of the services appear to be delivered at low initial cost, or even no cost, but will usually have high maintenance charges attached to contracts which are difficult to spot.  Be in no doubt – if what is offered seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“My advice is simple – do not agree to pay for any services being offered by a cold caller, either over the phone or on your doorstep.

“All reputable traders will understand the need for customers to think about what they are signing up to and will happily give that time without putting pressure on someone to sign up there and then.

“If you do not feel comfortable talking to the cold caller, simply hang up the phone or politely close the door to them.

“Some of the cold calls that have been reported to us include people trying to sell home security products, such as house alarms, and people promoting carpet cleaning services.”

Ivan Hancock, Divisional Trading Standards Manager for Dorset County Council, said: “If residents are concerned about any of the trading practices used, or believe they are being misled by sales staff, I would urge them to call Consumer Direct.

“As well as getting advice about where they stand, complaints can be investigated by the relevant trading standards service. Consumer Direct is very much our front door for complaints.

“Where more serious criminal allegations are involved we will continue to work with Dorset Police to ensure the most appropriate action is taken.”

To stop nuisance calls from telephone marketing companies contact the Telephone Preference Service by phoning them on 0845 070 0707 (local call charge) or register online at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/

For more information and advice on cold calling please visit the Consumer Direct website at http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/ or telephone 08454 04 05 06.