Devon and Somerset residents are being warned against rogue doorstep traders offering home maintenance services this spring.
In 2015 87 complaints were received by the service in relation to doorstep crime, with an estimate loss of over £101,000.
In March this year six complaints were made and in February an estimated £3,000 was lost by victims, a 100 per cent increase on 2015.
The longer daylight hours often coincide with a rise in complaints made to Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service.
Last April, 10 complaints were made with an estimated £28,000 lost.
Now Trading Standards Officers are urging the public to be on their guard in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year.
Some rogue traders offer services such as window and gutter cleaning, roofing work, driveway repairs and garden clearance with the aim of cheating householders.
Other criminals claim to be from the council, police, health care companies or utility and phone companies.
Doorstep crime can affect anyone – but the elderly and vulnerable people are often targeted.
It is important that you not only exercise caution on your own doorstep, but look out for your neighbours, family and friends to help prevent them falling victim too.
A study by the Home Office revealed that the health of older victims of doorstep crimes declines faster than non-victims of a similar age.
Victims are also 2.4 times more likely to be in residential care two years after a burglary or incident than their non-burgled neighbours.
The work done by many of these traders is often is shoddy with extortionate prices charged for substandard repairs and unnecessary jobs.
Sometimes money is taken without the work agreed being done. The cost of repairing the poor work can often leave consumers in unexpected debt.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Trading Standards said: “Be part of the solution, say no to doorstep crime and make sure you talk to those around you to raise awareness.
“If you want to have work done at home, please remember that you should always obtain three quotes from reputable businesses that come recommended, either by friends or via the Buy With Confidence scheme.”
Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, Councillor David Hall said: “If someone knocks on your door that you do not recognise, and you were not expecting do not answer the door unless you feel comfortable doing so.
“If a caller tells you they have noticed that your property is in need of repair, always seek other professional opinions, and only agree to have work done if you are happy you can trust the trader, and that you would be able to contact them easily if things go wrong.”
Please report any suspicious activity to the Police on 101 or Trading Standards on 03454040506. If you are concerned that someone is at immediate risk of serious harm, always call 999.
To learn more about scams and doorstep crime, please visit our website and take our short scams awareness training session www.devonsomersettradingstandards.gov.uk.
To learn more about the Buy With Confidence Scheme go to: www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.