Cheshire East Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.
This week, we discuss doorstep crime and rogue traders looking to make a ‘quick buck’.
The festive season is a special time, filled with joy and celebration, but there are a few people who use it to take advantage of others.
Each year millions of people in the UK fall prey to scammers, costing victims in the region of £5 billion per year.
Scams come through the post, over the phone, by text message, online and face to face.
Anyone can fall victim to a scam, with older and vulnerable adults more at risk, and the effects on that person can quite often be devastating.
That’s why the council is urging people to be wary of rogue traders and doorstep criminals this winter.
Here are a few signs that may give a scam away and a couple of tips to help to protect yourself:
· If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is;
· You shouldn’t have to pay anything upfront to claim a prize;
· If you are contacted out of the blue, then you should be suspicious;
· Don’t be rushed and try and resist pressure to make a decision about a purchase straight away;
· Never give out your personal details or send money to someone you have never met;
· Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams.
Rogue trading is a national problem, with evidence suggesting burglaries are sometimes associated with rogue traders.
Offenders often travel vast distances to commit offences related to gardening or maintenance work at attractive rates – but the quality of work is substandard, unnecessary and overpriced.
They also use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.
For work costing more than £42 and where the contract is formed in a place away from the trader’s business address, e.g. a resident’s home address, there is a requirement in law for traders to provide cancellation rights.
This gives 14 days for contracts to be cancelled. Rogue traders do not give cancellation rights and they also pressurise people to have the work started straight away.
Councillor Paul Bates, cabinet member for communities and health, said: “During winter, some of our residents might find themselves feeling more vulnerable and isolated. Sadly, it’s vulnerability that bogus callers and rogue tradesmen prey upon.
“That’s why the council is urging residents to be wary of unexpected callers and appealing for people to speak out about scams.
“If you have an elderly or vulnerable neighbour, friend or relative then please check in on them and make sure they are aware of what to look out for. If you suspect they may have fallen victim to a scam, don’t hesitate to report it.”
If you suspect you or someone you know is being scammed, you can report it to Cheshire East Council’s trading standards team via the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.
The team also urges residents to report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers.
Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.