Distraction-type burglaries and cold callers

There have been a couple of incidents in the surrounding villages of elderly people being targeted during the daytime by bogus officials. Please make sure that identification is asked for when anyone attends their address who is not a regular visitor.  Also, be aware of the following recommendations for cold callers. 

Doorstep cold callers

There have been a number of reports of cold calling in the village recently, specifically door-step sellers and concerns around strangers in the area

Cold calling is not illegal, however you can display a notice stating that you do not wish to receive cold calls, which means that a trader may be committing an offence if they arrive unannounced.  Not leaving when asked is illegal.  Additionally, cold callers selling goods over £42 in value must give you a written notice giving you 14 days in which you can cancel the agreement.  If they do not provide this, do not purchase their goods or services.

If you would like to print off a “no cold callers” sign prepared by Trading Standards, visit https://tinyurl.com/nocoldcallers

Even if your display a “no cold callers” notice at your home, you may still receive unexpected visits from individuals who are not selling goods, such as politicians canvassing for elections, religious groups or market researchers.  This is perfectly legal and it is still your choice whether to engage with them or ask them to leave.

The majority of cold callers will be genuine business people who are using this approach to offer you goods and services directly.  None of these traders have a right to enter your home and honest traders will never apply pressure to enter your home.  If the caller is from a recognisable organisation, you can contact the organisation using a number published in the directory or searched on the internet (not using the number provided by the caller) and check they are genuine before considering inviting the caller into your home.  If the organisation provides you with services already, you should be able to contact them on the number listed on your bill.

Peep-holes, intercoms and security chains can provide you with a safe barrier and the time needed to check the identity of an individual who is not trying to sell good or services before answering the door, and these protections can be cheap and easy to have installed.  If you do invite someone into your home, do not leave them unattended as this is an opportunity for both casual and habitual thieves.

The most likely people to visit your home unannounced are utility companies attending to read a meter. The company should be known to you as they will be the same company sending you your utility bill, and most of these companies operate a scheme allowing you to register a password. Once you have registered your password, any caller from the company should be asked to provide the password before being allowed in. You should be able to find the details for registering a password on your utility bills, or by calling their customer service teams.  Be aware of where your gas, electric and water meters are located, as callers from utility companies do not need access to your home to read external meters.

All charities have to be registered with the Charity Commission, and any charity carrying out collections must have a permit giving them permission to do so. If you are concerned about the validity of a charity collection, ask to see their permit before engaging in conversation or handing over any donations.  Remember to check the validity of the permit with Leeds City Council on 0113 378 5029.

If you believe that a cold caller is fraudulent, do not allow them into your home.  If you have any concerns, do not buy goods or services from a cold caller.  To report a suspicious cold calling trader, or to find out more about your rights call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.  If you are threatened, call the police.

Please also ensure the elderly and neighbours living alone are safe, and consider offering them your number as an emergency contact if they are worried or uncertain.  Sometimes, when they have someone on their doorstep, people can feel under pressure and having someone to contact can be reassuring and can help when working out whether to buy good and services from a genuine tradesperson or whether to allow someone into your home.

If you wish to make use of goods or services, always seek a reference for a trades person from someone you know.  Make sure you know their name and how to contact them.  It is always a good idea to also get more than one quote from reputable traders to ensure you are getting value-for-money and check that traders are members of a registered scheme or body.  There is nothing wrong with taking a name and number as politely asking someone to come back on a different day, giving you the chance to check their credentials, price and reputation.