Rogue Traders Safety Tips
The charity Citizens Advice has said that the everyday consumer, in particular the elderly, should be aware and alert to swindles, rip-offs and rogue traders.
The 5 most common rip-offs reported those who completed a Citizens Advice survey were:
- Fake Lotteries and Prizes.
- Debt advice firms that charge big fees but don’t solve the problem.
- Loan offers where consumers pay fees but then don’t get a loan.
- Rogue builders taking money for unprofessional, incomplete or even non-existent work.
- Doorstep energy salesmen who make promises about savings, but where the consumer actually ends up paying more.
However, thanks to on-going complaints and pressure from the consumer bodies and the Trading Standards Institute, most of the Big Six energy suppliers have now stopped door-to-door sales.
In some cases, the problem is not so much junk mail such as unwanted marketing literature, but more so illegal letters that are sent by criminal minds to simply defraud people out of their savings.
However thanks to ‘Think Jessica’ who was set-up in response to a family member being a victim of such a scam, is now a nationwide campaign. And the organisation is now appealing to age-related charities and police forces to help fund the project. For more information on this, please click on: www. thinkjessica.com
Older people are in particular more at risk as they tend to be more trusting and are less likely to have internet access and don’t realise how many of these cons exist.
A 5-point safety list is as follows:
- Be sceptical: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If in doubt, bin it, delete it or hang up.
- Take your time: A genuine offer shouldn’t demand an instant decision. Explore your options.
- Check who you are dealing with: Whether you are contacted by post, phone or on the doorstep, find out who the offer is coming from. Ask friends for their advice and check with a trusted organisation such as Citizens Advice, Consumer Direct or the Trading Standards Institute. For financial offers, check with the Financial Services Authority www.fsa.gov.uk
- Don't give out your details: Never give bank account information or other personal data, such as your date of birth or passwords to someone you don’t know. Genuine firms will not ask for this.
- Stay private: Block junk mail by registering with the Mail Preference Service via www.mpsonline.org.uk 0845 7034599. The Telephone Preference Service is via: www.tpsonline.org.uk 0845 0700707. Or you can register for both at once with Consumer Direct’s service at www.stayprivate.org and it is free to register.