Homeowners warned they could be conned as county sees rise in doorstep scammers

Lancashire residents are being urged to turn away cold callers and told not to agree any contracts at the door by the council, as doorstep scams see rise in county.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 3:50 pm
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 3:54 pm

Lancashire's trading standards experts are warning people to beware of Covid-19 conmen, phone fraudsters and dodgy repair firms following the latest stream of scam reports.

The council typically receive between 300 to 350 complaints across the county each year about doorstep selling.

Although this number reduced earlier in the year due to the lockdown, it has seen an increase again in recent months.

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Doorstep cold calling has seen a rise in recent months

Joanne Ainsworth, from Fulwood, received verbally aggressive behaviour from someone she believed to be a conman.

She said: "I had it a month ago, the guy was shocked when I answered the door as I live in a bungalow in an area with predominantly elderly neighbours. I have got a 'no cold calling' sticker on door but he proceeded to try and tell me that I needed work done.

"He said my neighbours at the end of the road just had work done but there are only five houses on my street and I know all the neighbours.

"When I politely told them no and informed them that my husband runs a building firm, they got agitated and verbally aggressive with me."

Gemma Roberts, also from Fulwood, said: "We had cold callers recently, they were glaziers who claimed they were a local business but they had Mancunian accents. I asked him to bring me a leaflet with business details on and he never came back."

Residents in Fulwood are advised that a roofing trader, currently under investigation by Trading Standards, has been cold calling in their area this month, knocking on the doors of elderly people.

Amanda Maxim, trading standards manager for Lancashire Trading Standards said: "We’ve had information about a doorstep trader operating in Fulwood and are currently looking into the situation.

"Please don't agree a contract with someone who just turns up at your door. Doorstep traders usually travel around to different areas, so it's important to be aware wherever you live in Lancashire.

"It's best to choose traders from recommendations, or from our Lancashire Safe Trader Scheme. Before you agree to any work, we recommend that you get a quote from another company to compare."

The Safe Trader Scheme, commissioned by Lancashire County Council gives people the opportunity to search for trusted traders locally.

Residents are being warned to not believe any claims that tiles on their roofs are slipping, ridge tiles need pointing, or their chimney is in a poor state unless the damage can be seen or a second opinion is obtained.

And homeowners are cautioned not pay money upfront and remain wary if a trader requests the full amount before the job is concluded, with doorstep callers typically preying on older and vulnerable members of society.

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, the cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: "It's amazing what lengths these doorstep traders will go to.

"They come out with clever cover stories to get their hands on people's money. They are relentless in their efforts, sometimes coming back time and time again until they get what they want.

"Always say no to cold callers, use local known traders and use recommendation services like our Lancashire Safe Trader Scheme.

"Remember if you agree to the contract in your own home, you will, in most cases, have 14 days to cancel.

"If you are suspicious, trading standards advice is never to provide any personal information and to hang up straight away. Check on official websites for the genuine contact details for these organisations."

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