If you are a victim of a scam, report it to Action Fraud.
If a rogue trader or doorstep criminal is on your property now, call the police on 999 straight away.
If you think a rogue trader or doorstep criminal is in your area, call the police on 101.
Hundreds of people every year across the south west fall victim to rogue traders and scammers – from doorstep sellers to cyber criminals – all of whom have the single aim of stealing your money. Anyone can be a victim, so don’t be embarrassed if it happens to you, it’s vital you speak out.
The best way to protect yourself from scams and rogue traders is to learn how to spot them and what to do if you come across them. A good place to start is the Little Book of Big Scams from Devon & Cornwall Police.
The are lots of simple and secure online behaviours you can adopt to help protect yourself from online scams.
Get Safe Online provides comprehensive and easy-to-understand information on online safety and The Cyber Aware campaign gives the public the advice they need to protect themselves from cyber criminals. Safety Detective offers parents a guide on safe YouTube and internet streaming for children.
For more advice about scams, see Citizens Advice – Scams.
If you run a youth organisation like a scout group or youth club, download the Young Friends Against Scams pack to run a scams awareness session with the young people in your group. Developed with Friends Against Scams, the pack is designed for children aged 8+ and includes information and activities to help make them scam aware.
Rogue traders and doorstep crime
Trading Standards South West’s ScamWise campaign gives advice on spotting a potential scam and how to avoid becoming the victim of a rogue trader. Their printable Stop Doorstep Crime leaflet gives information about the steps you can take to keep safe and has a section you can complete when reporting an uninvited doorstep caller.
Finding a tradesperson
When looking for a business to carry out work at your home, such as plumbing, roofing or gardening, here’s our advice:
- Don’t agree to work offered by unsolicited doorstep callers.
- Don’t rely on posts or recommendations on social media sites without doing your own research.
- Don’t be swayed by glossy flyers or impressive websites as they may not show the trader’s own work.
- Don’t pay cash or agree to be taken to the bank or immediately transfer money before any work is started.
- Don’t be rushed into making a decision.
- Get three written quotes from reputable businesses.
- Research the companies you’re looking to use e.g. ask for references and look online.
- Ask friends and family to recommend local traders or search via Buy With Confidence.
- Decide who to use in your own time and make sure you have confidence in their skills and abilities.
- Ask to see professional qualifications, public liability insurance and if applicable waste carriers licence.
- Make sure you have full contact details for a tradesperson not just a mobile phone number.
- Check if you’re entitled to your 14-day cooling-off period – see our guide Buying at home: off-premises contracts explained.
- Ask if the company has an Alternative Dispute Resolution policy – is there any independent body to complain to if things go wrong?
- If you are concerned rogue traders are operating in your area, always report it to Citizens Advice.
- If someone knocks on your door and you’re not sure, don’t open the door.
Illegal money lending
In England, a money lender has to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to lend money legally. Money lenders who aren’t authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority are breaking the law. They are known as loan sharks.
If you have borrowed from a loan shark, are worried about someone else who has, or want to report a suspected loan shark, you can contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or via their Stop Loan Sharks website.
Find out more about loan sharks at Citizens Advice – Loan sharks.
- Friends Against Scams
- Financial Conduct Authority
- Age UK – Scams and fraud
- Take Five to stop fraud
- Think Jessica – scam mail
- Royal Mail – scam mail
- Telephone Preference Service
- Neighbourhood Watch
- National Cyber Security Centre – information for individuals and families
- Trading Standards South West – tackling building fraud
- Environment Agency – waste collection