Trading Standards advice

Scams, rogue traders and doorstep crime

Many cold callers are legitimate salespeople, but it's common for rogue traders to use cold calling to scam customers into handing over their money or personal details.

Follow our advice to help you be prepared and less likely to fall for scams and doorstep crime.

On the doorstep

Lock: Always remember to lock your doors, even when you're at home.

Stop: If you get a knock at the door from an unexpected caller, stop and think if you're expecting someone. If you decide to open the door, make sure all other doors and entry points are locked so no one can get in while you're distracted.

Chain: Before you open the door, consider putting on the door chain or bar and keep it on while you talk to the person on your doorstep.

Check: If the caller wants to come in, always check their identity first, even if you were expecting somebody to visit. If you're unsure if the person's a legitimate caller, call their head office using the number from the telephone directory, recent bill, or website.

During the sale

Rogue traders and consumer scams can range from prize draws to psychic letters.

Guard your personal details and bank information and don’t give them out unless absolutely necessary. Scammers can use details they already have to convince you they're legitimate and trick you into giving them more information. 

If you suspect the salesperson isn't legitimate, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I feel pressured to make a purchase?
  • Do I have to respond to the offer straight away?
  • Do I have to make a purchase to win a prize?
  • Do I have to ring a premium rate number? Premium rate numbers start with 09, 118, 0871, 0872 or 0873.
  • Do I have to give my bank or credit card details?
  • Does the salesperson not want to give me their address or contact details?
  • Am I being asked to keep the offer a secret?
  • Does the offer look too good to be true?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you should ask the salesperson to leave.

After the sale

If you pay or agree to pay over £42 for any goods or services on the doorstep, you have 14 days to cancel the agreement without penalty and be fully refunded.

Cold callers must give you written information on your cancellation rights or the agreement isn't valid.

It's illegal for a trader to force you to sign away your cancellation rights.