Protect Against Doorstep Crime

If you are approached by any person, unexpected or unwanted, offering goods or services including to carry out repairs to your property, turn them away and tell them “I do not buy from Doorstep sellers”, close the door and report the matter to Cheshire East Trading Standards.

The do’s and don’ts of Doorstep Callers

Do

  • Fix a security chain to your door, and make sure you use it every time someone calls. If in doubt say “No thank you” and close the door. Don’t be afraid to say No – it doesn’t have to be personal, just have a policy of never buying anything at the door.
  • If you need work carried out contact the Cheshire East Buy With Confidence Scheme, further details can be found on the Buy With Confidence page.
  • Sign up to the Telephone Preference Service (0845 070 0707) to cut down on the number of telephone sales calls you receive as these can often lead to unsolicited visits.
  • Cheshire East Council’s Trading Standards can provide a ‘super sign’ that tells cold callers to leave – those that don’t may commit a criminal offence. Ring the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 to obtains yours.

All utility companies should offer password schemes that you can set up so that when an official calls they will be expected to tell you the agreed password to prove that they are genuine. Contact your utility company and request to set up a password.

Keep a watchful eye on your relatives and neighbours.

And Remember

  • Lock: Keep your front and back doors locked, even when you’re at home.
  • Stop: Before you answer, stop to think if you are expecting anyone. Check that you have locked your back door and taken the key out. Look through your spy hole or window to see who the caller is.
  • Chain: If you decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first. Keep it on while you are talking to the caller.
  • Check: Ask for the caller's identity card and carefully check it, even if they have a prearranged appointment - all genuine callers will carry some ID. Be sure to check that they look like the person on the card, and that their name is the same as any caller you were expecting.

Don’t

  • Ask a doorstep seller to call unless you are sure you want to buy.
  • Let a caller into your home if you are unsure of them.
  • Let the seller pressure you into making a decision there and then.
  • Agree to have work done on your home without getting a second opinion or further quotes, two or three if possible.
  • Be suckered by the promise of discounts, one-day only offers and ‘this deal is only available now’.
  • Believe the ‘scare stories’ a seller may tell you – they are rarely true.
  • Believe genuine companies have loads left over or cancelled orders – they generally don’t.
  • Keep large sums of money in the home.

Remember Your Rights

If you do sign a contract following a ‘cold call’ from a company (this includes a telephone call from the business asking for an appointment to visit you), or now following a visit you have requested and the goods or services you buy cost more than £42, then you generally have fourteen days from when you receive the goods or from when the service starts to change your mind and cancel the contract. This cancellation should ideally be sent in writing to the company, by recorded delivery and you should keep a copy of the cancellation letter.

Doorstep sellers who “cold call” have to give people a written notice of their right to cancel the work (there are exceptions to this rule). Failure to provide the notice is a criminal offence.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations also outlines offences that may apply to doorstep sales. These include:

  • Any commercial practice that is aggressive and impairs your freedom of choice or conduct in relation to the goods or products offered is illegal. This includes any harassment, coercion or undue influence.
  • Any seller within a commercial practice who falsely represents themselves or their goods may commit an offence.
  • Any seller within a commercial practice who uses their livelihood and ‘sob stories’ to entice you to buy may commit an offence.
  • Falsely claiming they are approved, endorsed or authorised by a public or private body (e.g. Gas Safe)

N.B.A Commercial Practice under these regulations is deemed as actions, omissions and other conduct by traders, directly connected to the promotion, sale or supply of products, to or from consumers.

For further information on your rights as a consumer contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506