Initiative to tackle fraudsters

POLICE are backing a national campaign targeting rogue traders.

Officers at Northumbria Police are supporting a national drive to make people aware of rogue doorstep sellers with the force’s ‘If in doubt – keep them out’ campaign.

The initiative aims to provide vulnerable people, their friends, family and neighbours, with helpful and practice advice on how to avoid being scammed.

Chief Inspector Bob Ryan said: “Over recent months we’ve had reports of people knocking on doors saying building work needs doing and then charging extortionate prices.

“These people can often seem very believable and use all sorts of stories to trick their way into people’s homes and either con them out of money or steal from them.

“The best advice is to never hand money over to someone who cold-calls at your home, and never let them inside. Anyone calling from an official organisation will happily wait or come back while you check their identification.”

To try and prevent people becoming victims of this type of crime, the force is linking in with the Office of Fair Trading’s awareness campaign urging householders to be cautious and take time to think about people who call at the door.

Rogue doorstep traders will often offer services at attractive rates and use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.

Also supporting the campaign is Consumer Direct, a government telephone and online service offering information and advice on consumer issues.

Michele Shambrook, deputy operations manager at Consumer Direct, said: “It is not illegal for handymen to canvas for work, but it is important that people are cautious and do not make hasty decisions.

“Rogue doorstep trading is an ongoing problem in the UK and work or service carried out can sometimes be unnecessary, of a poor standard, much more expensive than originally quoted or not done at all.

“This campaign is helping people to recognise the warning signs, so that they have the confidence to say no if they’re unsure about what is being offered.”

Anyone concerned they have been the victim of a bogus caller or are faced with a dubious tradesman, should inform police on 03456 043 043 or in an emergency dial 999.

Further advice is available at www.northumbria.police.uk