Householders are being warned to be on their guard against doorstep crime in a campaign being run by Aberdeenshire Trading Standards and Police Scotland.
Both organisations are particularly keen to get the message across to elderly or vulnerable residents, who are often targeted by traders calling at their homes uninvited.
Wilma Urquhart, Aberdeenshire Council’s trading standards manager, said that people can be doorstepped at this time of year when many people are considering garden or home improvements.
She continued: “While it may be tempting to employ someone who turns up on your doorstep and who can start right away, please think about the consequences if things go wrong. We receive many complaints from consumers who have employed a cold caller only to find that the goods or services are of a very poor quality and they cannot then contact the trader to get things put right. You also risk losing any deposit you hand over, or the price increasing considerably without genuine justification. It’s not uncommon for a quote of a few hundred pounds becoming a few thousand pounds by the time the job is finished, so please be careful.”
Trading Standards recommend that people neither agree to have work done nor sign anything on the doorstep and any business should be researched as much as possible before engaging its services. No money should ever be paid in advance.
Ms Urquhart added: “If you are in any doubt as to the identity of someone at your door, or are simply not interested, householders should feel confident in asking them to leave. In most cases, if you do end up contracting at your home or place of work, you legally have 14 days to change your mind, penalty free. This is the case unless you have expressly requested the work to start before this.”
Sergeant Darren Mills from the Safer Communities team in North East Division added: “This type of crime can have a devastating effect on the most vulnerable people in our communities and we would urge people in those communities to look out for each other especially their more vulnerable and elderly neighbours.
Suspicious activity should be reported to the Police on 101 or Trading Standards office 01467 536190, or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.