SCAMS – an article by Chris Armstrong and Ian Hillier from the London Branch of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and Lambeth Trading Standards
As Home Safety Ambassadors we need to pass on messages to residents about the many instances where rogue traders seek to take advantage of anyone who is unaware or vulnerable.
Face to face in the street – Researchers and some Charity workers often make an approach whilst you are out in shopping areas. My advice would be to refuse to enter into conversations – unless you wish to and feel safe and ideally have someone else with you. Never give your home contact details or banking information. If you wish to donate to a charity there are more secure ways to do this
On your doorstep – be very wary of all uninvited callers – never open your door without asking the caller to identify themselves first or only as far as a door chain will allow. Even if they have an ID and are wearing a uniform such as Gas Board, Water Board, Local Council, etc – disbelieve everyone till proven – before you let them in look up the phone number of the company or utility and phone it before you let them in. Don’t just phone a number on their ID as that will probably fake as well.
- There are a number of organisations that give lists of approved traders that clients can contact to ensure they get a good deal and reliable service. These include
- Age UK recommended handyman services
- Trusted Trader Scheme through Which?
- Rated People .com
- Other local schemes via your local trading standards websites tradingstandards.uk
One of the best ways to find a good handy person is still the oldest and best – that is by personal recommendation from a friend or neighbour
Get a door chain – display a sticker telling callers you never buy goods from a cold callers or will never agree to have work done on your property and you will call the Police if they persist. Pre-printed notices are available from Local Councils and some Charitable organisations or can be found on the internet.
Here is a link to the money saving expert website to print off a free A4 sign https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/no-more-junk#freesign
- Cold Calling Control Zones – talk to your local authority and find out about creating such areas in your locality. Individual streets or blocks of flats etc can have signage erected to warn possible cold callers they are not welcome. There are some in Lambeth see this link – click on section 2 to see where they are and how to set others up
Tell residents not to be worried about phoning 101 to report all incidents or even 999 if they feel threatened. Advise residents to tell relatives and neighbours about any such visits.
- Distraction burglary – warn residents about unwanted callers – explain the method of operation of these people of these people – if two people cold call, never let them both in at once as one is likely to keep you chatting whilst the other will wander round your home stealing anything valuable
- Scam Mail
- Whilst visiting look out for piles of letters saying the resident has won a prize OR offering large sums of money to use their bank account for money transfers OR a relative is in trouble abroad.
- These should be ignored and disposed of in the recycle bin as it is unlikely that any offer will be genuine
If the letter has the senders address on (usually on the back of the envelope) Suggest they put the mail back in the post box unstamped and marked – UNSOLICITED MAIL RETURN TO SENDER
The sender will then have to pay the return postage which may prompt them to remove contact details from their mailing lists.
If you want to report a potential postal scam you can contact Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail,
Or by phone on 03456 113 413
or email: email@example.com
Please also report instances to your local Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Service hotline 03454 040506
Mail Preference Service
If you are having a problem with the overall amount of junk mail that’s addressed to you, it might help to register your name and address for free with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) on-line or try phoning 0207 291 3310
This is a free service set up by the direct marketing industry to help people who don’t want to receive junk mail.
Its good practice for organisations to check the MPS list before sending marketing material out but it is not a legal requirement that they do so.
Door-to-door opt out
You can reduce the amount of ‘unaddressed’ mail you receive by registering with the Royal Mail’s door-to-door opt-out service. However, this will not stop mail addressed to ‘the occupier’.
To opt out of door-to-door mail, write to the address below requesting your name and address be added to the door-to-door opt out scheme.
Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Outs,
Oxford, OX1 1RX
Nuisance phone calls on land lines
If a resident has a problem there are appliances that can filter and dismiss unwanted calls these aren’t free but can prevent a great deal of worry for anyone receiving lots of calls look on line or ask your local Age UK contacts to give information. Some of these have proved very effective in limiting the worst cases of nuisance calls
- also try BT call barring
- register with Telephone Preference Service TPS by phone on 0345 070 0707 or by the internet tpsonline.org.uk
Nuisance call and Text messages on mobiles – if residents are having such contacts, numbers on mobiles can be blocked on the phone itself
Nuisance Email – ask if they are troubled by begging letters etc most computers have a junk mail option
Social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc – report any incidents to the controlling body
National Trading Standards – Scams Team
The national team are asking hundreds people to register as SCAMbassadors. Please follow the link and register your name:-
The National Trading Standards website has lots of useful information and is at:- http://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/
Think Jessica Campaign
One of the hardest hitting cases of an elderly woman being hounded until she died is told on this Charites website. It contains a massive amount of information and advice for people caught in the web as well as their carers, friends and families http://www.thinkjessica.com/