What is doorstep crime?
Doorstep crime includes traders cold calling at your door and claiming that work needs doing to your home or garden. They may prey on insecurities by saying there is a safety risk if you leave the work undone. If you agree to let them go ahead, the work is usually badly done and the price is put up because they pretend to have found extra things that needed doing.
Common types of cold calls include:
- Your roof or guttering is damaged – when in reality it may not be
- Trees on your property are unsafe and need attention – they may or may not be unsafe, but consult a qualified tree surgeon to find out
- Your roof has moss on it which needs cleaning – the National Federation of Roofing Contractors advises that moss on a roof is not a problem and that this service is completely unnecessary
- Your driveway needs cleaning – if you agree then the trader may persuade you to have other areas cleaned too, pushing up the price from the original estimate
Never have work done by anyone who cold calls. No reputable trader ever approaches a customer in this way.
If you think your home or garden needs work, please:
- Use a recommendation from friends/neighbours or contact the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 to find a good trader on the Trading Standards ‘Buy With Confidence’ list
- Obtain three quotes to check if the price is competitive and if the work really needs doing - never rely on the word of a single trader
- Remember that any contracts over £42 that are agreed in a consumer's home are subject to a 14 day cooling off rights. The homeowner must be given written information about their right to cancel, about the identity of the trader who is doing the work and the total cost of the work to be carried out. The consumer must authorise the trader in writing if the work is to start within the 14 day cooling off period. Just having a statement on a flyer or business card that there is a 14 day cooling off period is not enough.
Keep an eye out for vulnerable neighbours who may be approached by cold callers. If someone has agreed to work from a cold call and there is no paperwork, it is likely that there will be a problem.
Similarly, if you see roof work being carried out with no scaffolding in place, there is likely to be a problem with that trader. Call the police on 101, or your local Trading Standards office to let them know.
If you need more help or advice please contact the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
Find a trusted local tradesperson - 'Buy With Confidence' Scheme
The 'Buy With Confidence' Scheme was introduced by Trading Standards in response to concerns about ‘rogue traders,’ which are often highlighted in the media. It provides consumers with a list of local businesses and traders who have committed to trading fairly. Every business listed has undergone a series of detailed checks by Trading Standards officers before being approved as a member.
Trading Standards cannot promise that 'Buy With Confidence' members’ work will be perfect every time, but you can expect any problems to be dealt with fairly by the business. Should there be any unresolved issues then you can turn to Trading Standards for advice and mediation.
Report a fraud
Need to report a potential fraud? Call 0300 123 2040 or visit the Action Fraud website.