Doorstep criminals (also know as rogue traders, cowboy builders, building and gardening scammers) cold call on unsuspecting households offering convincing deals to try to get you to agree to having work carried out. We know that if you accept work from a doorstep criminal you'll pay much more than you intended for very poor, unnecessary and sometimes dangerous work.
Doorstep criminals rarely provide paperwork so they can't be traced once they've left your home. Names, addresses and business details are often false and telephone numbers don't get answered. They have no interest in doing work properly, their only concern is getting the cash and disappearing before Trading Standards or the police can catch up with them.
To stop doorstep criminals from scamming you, remember that you must never:
- agree for work on your house or garden by someone who knocks at your door uninvited
- give money to or sign any forms for people who turn up on your doorstep
- open the door to strangers or allow uninvited callers into your home
- let somebody take you to the bank to get money for them.
Here is some advice for how to protect yourself against doorstep criminals.
Reputable builders, roofers and gardeners do not cold call. If you need a tradesperson, visit the Trading Standards Checked website. Remember to always get 3 quotes, never pay up front and don’t pay by cash.
If you are buying goods from someone on your doorstep costing more than £42, the law says you have 14 days to change your mind and ask for your money back. This is known as the ‘cooling off’ period. Never give out your bank details or PIN and never transfer money out of your bank account if asked to do so for ‘security reasons’.
Remember to keep your front and back doors locked. If you are not sure about the caller, no matter how persuasive they are, ask them to make an appointment to come back when a friend or family member can be with you.
Doorstep criminals have been known to return to the homes of people who have previously had poor work carried out, pretending to be a Police or Trading Standards Officer. They will say arrests have been made and a court case is currently in progress. This is when they will ask for money for all sorts of reasons.
If you feel afraid or threatened by a doorstep caller, phone 999. For non-urgent calls, phone Kent Police on 101.
Doorstep crime is financial abuse
Be alert to signs that someone you know has fallen prey to financial abuse by doorstep criminals. Anyone can be a target, but criminals will often target socially isolated people. Learn the signs of financial abuse so you can help protect your patients, clients, neighbours, customers or family members.