Doorstep Scams

Bogus tradesmen, door-to-door sales or doorstep fraud involves fraudsters trying to scam you after knocking at your door.

Some criminals make their living by preying on older and vulnerable adults. They may say they are from the water or gas companies and there is an emergency or pretend to be from the council.

Legitimate doorstep selling involves someone selling you goods or services in your home or on your doorstep. Many honest businesses use this technique – but so do fraudsters.

Buying on your doorstep can be convenient. However, a salesman who uses clever tactics can pressurise you into buying something you actually don’t want or something that’s poor value for money.

Door-to-door frauds can take many forms, including:

  • pressure selling
  • unfair contracts
  • overpriced or substandard home maintenance or improvements
  • phoney consumer surveys
  • bogus charity collections

Such frauds involve promoting goods or services that are either never delivered to you or are of a very poor quality. Fraudsters may also bill you for work that you didn’t agree to. There are specific laws about door-to-door sales. Many are required to give you a ‘cooling-off’ period (where you can change your mind or request your money back). Bogus tradesmen will offer none of these, and even if they do, you can be sure their ‘guarantee’ will not be honoured. Bogus salespeople will provide false identity or contact information, making it impossible for you to identify or contact them. If you’ve paid them in advance, you won’t get your money back.

Even if your bank or insurance policy covers any loss, you’ll still have to contend with a damaged credit rating, continued correspondence over a prolonged period to repair the damage, and the emotional distress and anxiety identity theft can cause.

Also, be wary of opening your door to a potential burglar or someone who wants to get inside your property to enable other people to break in. Once they get through your door, fraudulent salespeople can take note of your valuables and any security measures you have in place.

How do I avoid being scammed?

  • Always ask for identification before letting anyone you don't know into your house.
  • Check credentials, including a permanent business address and landline telephone number. The mobile phone numbers given on business cards are often pay-as-you-go numbers which are virtually impossible to trace.
  • Take control by asking the questions. Ask for references from previous customers or to see examples of their work.
  • Don’t sign on the spot – shop around. Get at least three written quotes to make sure you’re not being ripped off.