Consumer: Crackdown on rogue doorstep calls in Leeds

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A consumer watchdog is shining the spotlight on the growing problem of doorstep rogue traders across the region.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is urging consumers - especially the elderly and vulnerable - to be on their guard against potential scammers knocking on their door. Home improvements, such as roofing, tarmacing, double glazing and gardening, continue to top the list of complaints. With only five to 10 per cent of doorstep crime being reported, financial losses to individuals could total £169 million nationwide.

It is thought there are many more victims out there who do not feel comfortable in telling anyone, perhaps due to embarrassment at having been ‘reeled in’, a lack of understanding of what has happened to them, or social isolation and loneliness.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is now tackling this problem, which causes devastating and lasting results, with a range of initiatives.

l The SAFER (Scams and Fraud Education for Residents) Project holds workshops and events to in Leeds to empower older and vulnerable residents. Contact Carrie Wilson (cwilson@wyjs.org.uk) for details.

l There have been 175 Cold Calling Control Zones set up across the region to send a message to rogue traders that they are not welcome. These have been shown to reduce the number of doorstep cold callers by up to 70 per cent. To set one up, visit www.ts.wyjs.org.uk/wyjs-trading-doorstep-crime.asp.

l A Rapid Response team has been put in place to deal with situations where there is an immediate threat at a consumer’s home where the consumer is vulnerable and/or elderly. Call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 and West Yorkshire Police on 101.

Trading standards also urged residents always to check written references and be aware of ‘pressure selling’ tactics, such as ‘one day only’ offers. Have a spy or peephole to check who is calling and use a door chain to prevent a trader from entering.

With a pre-arranged appointment, another tip is to use a password scheme when booking with the organisation.

David Lodge, head of the service, said: “Through the Cold Calling Control Zones, SAFER project and Rapid Response programme, we aim to empower West Yorkshire residents, particularly those in a vulnerable position, to avoid becoming a victim of rogue doorstep traders. I want to spread the message that this criminal activity is not acceptable and that, together, we can make real step to stamp it out.”

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