Community safety

Cold Callers and Rogue Traders

Useful information from Merton and Richmond’s Trading Standards Department 

Over recent months Trading Standards and the Police have dealt with several instances in Raynes Park and West Barnes of residents falling victim to being cold called by rogue traders. One householder lost over £49,000 whilst attempts were made to defraud other residents of £45000 and £26000. 

Such stories have been highlighted on TV and in the Press many times and you may well think it will never happen to you, but it is so easy to get caught out before realising just what has happened.   

Typically, the rogue appears at the front door saying he is working locally and has noticed a roof tile or similar needs attention. If the resident shows any interest the job suddenly gets bigger. Mostly unnecessary work will be priced far above the market rate. Money is requested up front, usually in cash. The job will be left incomplete and work undertaken is of poor quality. If the householder makes a claim they find names and addresses not traceable. 

Thus, Merton and Richmond Trading Standards wish to highlight the following: 

·      Don’t buy at the door. This is the most important and effective way to avoid falling victim to traders calling at your door. Trading Standards recommend residents always say no to cold callers.  Door Stickers stating “We don’t buy at the door from uninvited sales people “ are available free of charge from Trading Standards. If you receive a visit you can simply point to the sticker and close the door.

·      Finding a reputable trader. Personal recommendations can be useful, so too can some trader approval schemes. The better schemes undertake detailed checks on the traders and provide useful customer feedback along with a route to complain. Schemes we recommend are:

 “Buy with Confidence” (https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ ) , “Which? Trusted Traders”  http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk/ ) and “Checkatrade” (http://www.checkatrade.com/ ). 

When older residents have smaller jobs, we also recommend asking Wimbledon or Merton Guild of Social Services for their advice about people they can recommend who will take on small tasks such as household repairs, decorating, putting up curtains and much more. Further information can be found at http://www.mandmguild.wixsite.com/mandmguild 

·      Cancellation rights.  A written notice giving you 14 days to cancel should be provided if you agree a contract when a trader is in your home (with a few exceptions). It is an offence not to provide this.  

·      Contract information.  The trader must also supply other information in writing before the householder agrees the contract. This includes a description of the work to be carried out, the total price to pay inclusive of VAT, the name and address of the business and any phone numbers. 

Starting work without permission is a popular tactic employed by doorstep traders and an offence.  The rogue may use vague language, so the consumer feels that maybe they inadvertently agreed; even though they didn’t. They may also start removing roof tiles and even walls, so the house is no longer secure or watertight, giving the householder little option but to proceed with the work.

The Trader refuses to leave when asked. If you ask a trader to leave your home and they refuse, then this is also an offence.   

Claims made by the trader. Doorstep traders often make false claims such as being a member of trade associations. They may also make statements that could have some element of truth but are nevertheless prohibited. For example, a salesman cannot imply they will lose their job if they cannot close the sale. 

Bogus official. Many victims of doorstep crime are targeted a second time by the rogue traders or their associates, this time claiming they are Trading Standards Officers, Police or other officials. These bogus officials say they can recover money paid to the original rogue trader, often claiming this is part of a court process. The bogus official always requires some form of payment to be made by the victim before any compensation can be paid. Unfortunately, several homeowners in Merton have lost large amounts of money to this scam.

Look out for neighbours. The way that we find out about many of these incidents is by concerned neighbours letting us know. Victims may not be capable of contacting us or not even realise they are being defrauded. If you are concerned about unusual building work, particularly at the home of a neighbour who may be vulnerable, then let us know. We are happy to visit and check if the trader is genuine and if the householder needs assistance.

Trading Standards can be contacted on tel. 020 8545 4018 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Mobile Credit Card Reader and other Scams

Our members are warned about new scams, including one involving what looks like a mobile credit card machine. However, it is really a device for stealing your credit card number and PIN code.

Click this link for the YouTube video posted by the Metropolitan Police- https://youtu.be/pJhaYPxt9mw

Cold Callers selling Insulating Foam

Beware of Cold Callers on the telephone or at the door 

We are told by one of our active Members that he received a telephone call on 20th August 2018 inviting him to arrange an appointment to hear all about the advantages of an insulating foam which is applied to the underside of roofing slates/tiles.   

The caller suggested it was a new product from Canada.  However, great caution is advised, as much foam insulation is highly inflamable and gives off toxic fumes went burning.

Neighbourhood Watch - December 2018

 

Thefof and from Motor Vehicles   

Over the last few months there has been an increase in the number of 'theft from' and 'theft of' motor vehicles. Many of these crimes have been reported where there has been no sign of forced entry to the vehicle or the vehicle has been stolen with the lawful owner still in possession of the keys. 

There are two main locking systems for vehicles, these are Key Fob and Key less. Both can leave your vehicle vulnerable to crime if certain precautions are not taken. 

  • Key Fob entry

The system works by sending random combinations of code to the vehicle each time the fob is pressed. As copying the code is therefore useless the thieves have come up with another way to prevent you from locking your vehicle. 

Thieves are jamming the signal from your key fob to your vehicle by using a number of different devices. These devices can be purchased from as little as £2 from the internet and come in many forms such as garage door openers and house light controllers/dimmers. Many of these devices act to block your key fobs when you attempt to lock your vehicle. 

Thieves can block signals in whole areas such as car parks or streets by hiding these devices in bushes with a clothes peg activating the device for long periods of time and without the need for them to be in the vicinity. 

There is a solution. Once you have activated your key fob, YOU MUST ensure the lights have flashed indicating the car has received the signal, and then check the vehicle is locked by lifting a door handle. 

  • Keyless Car entry

The signal for a vehicle with keyless entry cannot be jammed. However, the signal used for vehicles with this form of security system is unchanging and broadcasts continuously between the fob and the vehicle. IT CAN BE COPIED. 

Fobs made by different manufacturers use different ranges and the signal can vary in terms of strength and useable distance. This is the distance between the vehicle and the range in which the vehicle will be unlocked. This can be up to 30 feet from the vehicle. For many people this could be less than the distance between your vehicle and where you leave your keys once inside your home. YOUR VEHICLE MIGHT NOT BE LOCKED. Alternatively, if your fob is transmitting continuously, the distance between where the device is in your home and the pavement, driveway etc. may be enough for a potential thief to copy the signal. Once copied the thief can not only enter your car but also steal it or any property within it.

 The advice from Thatcham is as follows:

If you have a vehicle with a keyless entry system, keep the key in a 'Faraday Cage' where the signal cannot escape (or you can line a Tupperware pot with foil and get the same effect). This is the same advice as given to us in relation to tap credit and debit cards. You can now purchase small metal credit card cases at an affordable price. You can then remove the plastic card holders and keep your key fob in there. Search for an RFID blocking case/wallet. 

Lee Roberts

Neighbourhood Watch Manager

Tel: 020 8649 3213

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Yellow Box Cameras in Grand Drive

 

CHURCH WALK & COPPICE CLOSE

Since November 2017, traffic surveillance cameras have been installed to monitor the "yellow box" junctions on Grand Drive at Church Walk and Coppice Close. Stop in the box and get a fine!

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