Essex Trading Standards is running a campaign throughout March, which aims to prevent elderly people from becoming victims of rogue traders.
The campaign is called Be Sure at the Door and is jointly run with Essex Police and Age UK Essex.
Community agents and Age UK Essex staff will visit elderly people to give them advice about how to react to cold callers and how to spot a genuine trader. The campaign encourages district councils in Essex to get involved.
Campaign materials include fridge magnets with three vital steps to follow if a cold caller touts for trade. The materials are being distributed by Community Agents, Age UK Essex and some district councils. They’re also available from GP surgeries and Essex libraries.
Last year, five members of a rogue trader gang were — between them — jailed for more than 27 years. Another was given a suspended prison sentence after an Essex Trading Standards and Essex Police investigation.
The men were prosecuted for offences against 18 elderly victims in the Colchester and Clacton area, who together had more than £1 million stolen from them. The gang told their victims they needed more and more work done, in some cases draining their victims’ life savings.
This year, a 58-year-old man who cares for his 98-year-old father contacted Essex trading standards after he paid nearly £7,000 for three jobs at his home in Hadleigh before he realised he was the victim of a rogue trader gang.
Rogue traders often pick on vulnerable residents and older people.They call on them and offer to carry out household repairs, such as to roofs or driveways.They have been known to call round after storms or flooding.
Very often they are very persuasive and may seem friendly.They may claim to know and to have done work for friends and neighbours but are not to be trusted.
Those concerned they’ve been contacted by a rogue doorstep trader should contact Citizens Advice on 0345 4040506 or, if the trader is operating with the Essex area, contact Essex Trading Standards.