12,000 people suffer from cold calling
Published on 12 November 2012 05:30 PM
Last year, 12,000 complaints were made to the Consumer Direct helpline about cold callers. The news comes as National Anual Consumer Week, which launched today, announced plans to tackle cold callers.
Run by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), the week aims to educate consumers around the issue of cold calling - and help people to protect their homes through the use of a 'No Cold Calling' sticker.
The TSI No Cold Calling signs will be distributed nationwide as part of the campaign and consumers are encouraged to display them clearly on their doors.
Doorstep traders often take advantage of older and vulnerable people by carrying out unnecessary home maintenance work at grossly inflated prices.
They also often add insult to injury by doing the work badly - or use cold calling as a cover for distraction burglary.
However, despite high numbers of complaints about cold callers - experts predict that many cases actually go unreported, and therefore the number effected could be much higher.
Lucy Harmer, Head of Information and Advice at Age UK, said: 'Scammers will often see vulnerable older people as an easy target. Scams can take place on the doorstep; by phone, on the internet or through the post and the sad fact is that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
'If you feel under pressure to commit, then just step away because any reputable company will allow you time to think an offer over.'
'Anyone can be taken in by a scam so people shouldn't be embarrassed to report a crime. If you feel you are or have been a victim speak to the police, a family member or friend.'
Dealing with cold callers
Ron Gainsford, TSI's chief executive, advised: 'We think there is only one way consumers can really stay safe from rogues in their own homes, and that is by saying ‘no' to cold calling doorstep traders -particularly those offering home maintenance services such as roofing, guttering, gardening and work on the driveway.'
Martin Lewis, the Money Savings Expert, explained how using a No Cold Calling sign from the TSI could help.
He said: ‘If you don't want people to knock, stick a TSI-approved ‘no cold callers' sign up. They've already been hugely popular on my website, with over 150,000 downloads.
Let's be honest, they won't deter everyone, but it's an elegant way to reduce the number of knockers. And if people persist, then calmly point at the sign, smile, and don't engage.'
Consumers who need guidance on their consumer rights or want to report a dodgy cold caller to trading standards should call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.
Anyone feeling threatened should call the police on 999.
Lucy Harmer, Head of Information and Advice at Age UK, also advises: 'Age UK has produced two free information guides "Avoiding Scams" and "Staying Safe" which provide practical steps to ensure older people are able to protect themselves against this type of crime in their home and on their doorstep.
'To find out more about how Age UK can help, call 0800 169 6565, visit www.ageuk.org.uk or speak to your local Age UK.'