Bogus callers are a real problem across the UK. They pose as officials from the council, utility companies, the health authority, repair people or as sales people and so on. They trick their way into people’s homes, usually with the intent to steal. Unfortunately, those at greatest risk from a bogus caller are the most vulnerable in our communities, such as the very elderly and those who live on their own. You can help prevent bogus callers from operating in your area by looking out for potential victims and helping to protect them.
Preventing doorstep crime
Since last Summer, East Sussex Trading Standards Service has had available two officers,ready to deal with‘doorstep crimes’. These can range from referrals either from other agencies such as the Police or Social Services, or concerned neighbours. The traders we have been able to disrupt have been fencers,builders, fish sellers and tarmacers. These officers have the ability to investigate the evidence they are being given and decide what course of action to take - whether it be advising both consumer and trader or asking the Police to arrest somebody for serious offences.
The information gained from these type of complaints is shared with our colleagues across the South East, as today they are in Eastbourne, tomorrow they could be in Surrey. This evidence is further used to take action where we can show a regular pattern of consumer detriment. In June,West SussexTrading Standards were granted a court order against two builders who had regularly been cold calling on consumers and increasing the agreed price. A timely piece of information from East Sussex showed the court that they were still disregarding their obligations and the District Judge may well reflect on this when they next appear in Court. The law is quite specific about cold calling traders - where they fail to give a consumer cancellation rights, then the consumer can legally cancel the contract (if the goods or services are over £35). The Trading Standards Services in the South East have saved consumers over £0.5 million, since the introduction of Trading Standards teams to deal with this type of offender.