Rogue traders targeted during day of action

Dorset Police carried out a targeted day of action with partner agencies to clampdown on rogue traders and pushy doorstep sellers who use fraud to con vulnerable people into paying for unnecessary or vastly overpriced work to their homes.

Operation Rogue Trader saw Safer Neighbourhood Teams, officers from the Road Traffic Unit and Trading Standards officials actively stop any tradesperson they saw working on houses or in gardens.

The day of action on Wednesday 9 April 2014 was part of a week of activities taking place 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.

Of the 25 traders stopped and spoken to during the day of action in Dorset, 11 were given advice on doorstep trading legislation and three were spoken to and issued Fixed Penalty Notices in relation to driving offences.

Three incidents of rogue trading were reported to Dorset Police during the week. Officers from Dorset Police and Trading Standards have spoken to the victims and have begun an investigation into one of the incidents.

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.”

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: 16 April 2014

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