Scheme to keep the conmen out

ROGUE traders and thieves who con their way into residents' properties in the Felixstowe area are being targeted today in a new campaign to try to keep people safer in their homes.

ROGUE traders and thieves who con their way into residents' properties in the Felixstowe area are being targeted today in a new campaign to try to keep people safer in their homes.

The message to people is to “think twice” before letting anyone in - or before agreeing to have work done by doorstep callers.

Police and trading standards officers are urging people to report instances of both distraction burglaries and shoddy workmanship by doorstep sellers so they can prosecute.

One woman in Old Felixstowe was asked to pay £1,400 for her driveway to be resurfaced. The workers cut through her waste pipe which led to water bubbling through the surface and the drive crumbling away.

The example, shown as part of the launch of the new project, is one of many cases where officials say people have been charged extortionate prices for shoddy work, often work they didn't even need to have done.

Trading standards officer Tony Doorly said: “There are many instances where these rogue traders will turn up and offer to tarmac driveways, do roof work or gardening. Often this work is both unnecessary and unsatisfactory.

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“I think sometimes people are caught unawares and think they are being offered a good, cheap job when they actually end up with something very shoddy and being charged a lot of money for it.

“Sometimes people can feel intimidated and these traders have a very good patter.

“We are just asking people to think twice. If you need work like this doing to your property it should be something planned, not something decided on the spur of the moment because someone knocks on your door - it is very unusual to decide suddenly that your driveway needs doing. Use an established trader and get several quotes.”

The new drive to make people aware of the dangers of dealing with people on the doorstep features an advice booklet published by the Safe and Sound partnership. It is being distributed at a series of events at Post Offices across the county and was launched at Trimley Post Office. The next is at Walton Post Office, Felixstowe, from 9am to 11am on Monday July 17.

Safe and Sound chairman David Dyble said the campaign was also highlighting distraction burglaries, where people con their way into people's home while an accomplice searches and steals money while the householder is occupied.

WEBLINKS: www.tradingstandards.gov.uk

www.consumerdirect.gov.uk

Have you been targeted by rogue traders? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FACTFILE: Doorstep sellers and bogus callers

Fit and use a door security chain every time you open the door.

Always ask for identification - and then verify that ID by ringing the visitor's employer by using a number in the telephone book, not on the ID card.

Do not agree to let anyone carry out work in your home until you get a second opinion to see if you need the work done.

Do not agree to any work where the caller says, “We are only in the area today”.

If you agreed to buy goods or services and did not invite the doorstep seller to call, you may have a short period of time to cancel the contract after it has been signed - keep all paperwork.

Never keep large sums of money in the house.

Keep a list of numbers of credit cards and important documents in case of loss.

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