Scams, Rogue Traders and Doorstep Crime
Complaints received by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service and by the Trading Standards Services show that every year in the South West, hundreds of people are conned by or encounter problems with scammers and rogue traders.
It is estimated that UK consumers lose up to £3.5 billion per year to a variety of scams that exploit low-cost, mass-marketing techniques to target recipients. These include bogus prize draws and lotteries, premium-rate prize promotions, psychic mailings and miracle health cures that mislead recipients.
We also receive complaints from consumers who are cold called by unscrupulous traders offering their services on the doorstep. The work is often badly done and overpriced. There are strong indications that the actual number of people affected by scams is far greater than the reported figures.
The sums lost by individuals from these scams and traders range from small amounts to tens of thousands. Trading Standards wants to raise consumer awareness of these issues by promoting our tsconnect newsletter and encouraging Devon and Somerset residents to make the right choice when considering unsolicited offers, or dealing with tradespeople who knock at the door.
You can help too – by talking about scams and doorstep crime, you can help to raise awareness and increase the number of people who are empowered to avoid becoming victims. If you have access to a shop window, gp surgery noticeboard or other prominent community display area, please download our Scams Awareness Poster and help us to spread the word.
Check out our Scams Page to make sure you are aware of them and can avoid falling victim. If you are a business who has received a communication you believe may be a scam, you can visit our Business Scams page.
Avoiding Consumer Scams & Rogue Traders
Devon and Somerset Trading Standards receives hundreds of complaints each year about mass marketed scams ranging from prize draw scams to psychic letters. Our advice to consumers is to ask yourself the following and if you can answer yes to any of these questions then there is a good chance that someone is trying to scam you, in which case you should recycle, delete, ask a salesman to leave or hang up.
- Was the offer unsolicited?
- Do I have to respond straight away?
- Do I have to make a purchase to win a prize?
- Do I have to ring a premium rate number?
- Do I have to give my bank or credit card details?
- Is the business reluctant to give their address or contact details?
- Am I being asked to keep it confidential?
- Does it look too good to be true?
Use your common sense, but if any of the above are true, think twice before handing over any money or giving your personal details.
Guard Your Personal Details
Your personal details have value to scammers, and we don’t just mean your bank account or credit card numbers. Everything from your age to your address to whether you have children can be used by scammers to target you, but there are some simple things you can do the help protect yourself.
What to do if you receive or fall victim to a scam
If you think something you’ve been offered is a scam, or if you have fallen victim find out more about what steps to take.
Scams & Doorstep Crime Leaflets and Booklets
- Scams In General (pdf)
- Telephone Scams (pdf)
- Postal Scams (pdf)
- Little Book Of Big Scams (pdf)
- Doorstep Crime Information Leaflet (pdf)
- No Cold Callers Sign (pdf)
- Identification Guide – what to remember about suspects and vehicles (pdf)
Some useful Scam & Doorstep Crime related links: