Rogue doorstep traders prey on elderly and vulnerable

Rogue traders are known to target the elderly and vulnerable.
Rogue traders are known to target the elderly and vulnerable.
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West Yorkshire Trading Standards is urging residents to look out for rogue doorstep traders preying on elderly and vulnerable neighbours.

With as many as 170,000 incidents of doorstep crime occurring nationally each year, the National Consumer Week 2014 Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders campaign encourages neighbours, friends, families and carers to nominate themselves to discourage rogue traders. These traders often cold call and offer to carry-out repairs which are poor quality, unnecessary and charged at extortionate prices, sometimes even driving the victim to the bank to withdraw money or threatening them.

Trading Standards Institute Chief Executive Leon Livermore, said: “This campaign gives power back to communities that have been blighted by rogue traders and prevents those most at risk from becoming victims of doorstep crime.

“While Trading Standards officers strive to track down and prosecute rogue traders, community intervention is the first step in preventing detriment caused by doorstep crime. The Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders campaign highlights the impact community-spirit and the goodness of neighbours, friends and relatives can have in making Britain a safer place.”

Coun Bill Urry, of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said “Rogue traders are a huge problem across West Yorkshire and have a devastating effect on their victims. Through schemes such as National Consumer Week, we can educate people not to fall into the trap of these fraudsters and to look out for those who may be more vulnerable in our communities.”

The detriment of doorstep crime reaches beyond financial loss. It can cause a person’s mental health to deteriorate and in some cases, suffer physical harm. Neighbours, friends, relatives and carers can nominate themselves to help stop rogue doorstep traders operating in the area by joining a Nominated Neighbour scheme, taking away the trader’s ability to contact the resident directly.

Nominated neighbours give elderly or vulnerable members of the community a postcard for their door with the nominated neighbour’s address and phone number, informing cold-calling doorstep traders to speak with the nominated neighbour on the resident’s behalf. This prevents direct contact between the vulnerable resident and the trader, reducing the risk of doorstep crime taking place. Nominated Neighbours Postcards are available to download free of charge from the Trading Standards Institute website at http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/events/Materials.cfm.

The Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders campaign is a partnership between West Yorkshire Trading Standards, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), Citizens Advice and the National Trading Standards Board.

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, said, “Rogue traders bring misery to thousands of households. It’s disgraceful that some traders rip people off on their own doorstep and preventing con artists from doing damage in the first place is crucial.

“We’ll continue to crack down on illegal practices in West Yorkshire, bring rogue traders to justice and help victims to move on. We want people to be on the lookout for doorstep crime in their community to help stop neighbours falling foul of rogues. Anyone who has been a victim of doorstep crime or knows of others that have been affected should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506”