The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) have joined calls for people to carry out thorough checks on traders in a bid to crack down on doorstep criminals. This is part of a major new campaign that has been launched as part of National Consumer Week to tackle doorstep crime.
The campaign – titled ‘Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders’ – is focused on how citizens can look out for signs that a neighbour or someone in their community may be being targeted by doorstep criminals and encouraging them to step in and alert the authorities.
However, there are also a number of simple steps people can take to ensure that they do not become victims of doorstep criminals. These include:
•Seek tradesman recommendations from family and friends
•Obtain at least three quotes for any work you wish to take place
•Check the references of tradesmen and go and look at previous work they have done
•Produce a detailed written specification of the work you want to be done and ensure the quote provided covers all of this work (including supply of materials and removal of rubbish)
•Ensure that the tradesman has the appropriate level of public liability insurance for the work to be carried out
National Trading Standards is also advising people that they should never buy services on the doorstep from traders and should instead follow the guidance to ensure that they do not become victims of doorstep crime. The FMB and NFRC also advise against people hiring tradesman who cold-call.
Doorstep crime involves criminals preying on vulnerable people – often older and living with ill health – by cold-calling at their homes and pressurising them into paying extortionate prices for unnecessary goods or services. The outcome is often botched jobs on roofs, driveways and gardens and the practice often sees victims being frogmarched into banks and building societies to withdraw large sums of cash.
Throughout National Consumer Week, community events will be taking place across the country to equip people to help spot doorstep criminals and to promote ‘Nominated Neighbour’ schemes which are available in many areas, while partners from banks, building societies, neighbourhood and older people’s charities and victim support groups are also playing their part.
This coincides with a massive enforcement effort spearheaded by the National Trading Standards’ Doorstep Crime Project Team. This includes a pilot scheme across Yorkshire and The Humber, which has torn up traditional local boundaries to monitor criminals operating across different areas, an approach that has so far led to four arrests and 15 investigations. The team has also launched a series of training programmes for a range of partners including charities working with older adults, police forces and Citizens Advice call centre staff, and is working more closely with organisations such as the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to pave the way for further breakthroughs.
Ruth Andrews, national trading standards project lead for Doorstep Crime, said:
“It is vital that people look out for their neighbours, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable, and help protect them from doorstep criminals. However, there are also some simple steps that people can take to ensure they do not become a victim of doorstep crime.
“The most important step people can take is to not buy services from traders on the doorstep. This will prevent doorstep criminals from getting their foot in the door. If