DORSET residents are being urged to help combat doorstep crime and stand up to aggressive cold callers.
It comes after it was revealed a Dorchester man was ripped off by a gang of workers.
Dorset County Council’s Trading Standards team is spelling out advice to deal with conmen and rogue traders as part of National Consumer Week.
Since April, officers have intervened and advised where rogue doorstep traders have been involved on 13 occasions. Of these, seven were in relation to driveway work, with others involving tree cutting, roofing, fencing and insulation.
Action has been taken in four cases including prosecutions for fraud and misleading consumers.
People are advised to use trusted traders available through the county’s Buy With Confidence scheme.
This features a range of reputable businesses which have been vetted and which are committed to good customer service.
Dorset County Council Trading Standards manager Ivan Hancock said: “As a rule, we always advise people never to deal with cold callers.
“You can display a card in your door to deter unwanted callers.
“If someone does knock on your door trying to sell you something, be polite but firm in turning them away. And if they persist, you are within your rights to call the police – if the person on your doorstep does not leave they are committing an offence.”
Oxfordshire Trading Standards recently led a prosecution against Thomas Doran and Jeremy Connors, both trading as Brett Driveways of Basildon, Essex. They admitted misleading consumers by false statements and failure to provide written notices of consumers’ rights to cancel work.
One of their victims was a Dorchester resident who agreed to driveway work for £3,000.
The required notice of the right to cancel the work within seven days was not given. The next day a gang started work and then demanded £5,000, claiming more materials were needed.
After an argument this became £4,000, which the householder paid. He later found that the proper drainage was not put in and some repairs were needed.
Doran and Connors were fined £1,200 each, ordered to pay costs totalling £1,155 and compensation to one consumer of £200.
Dorset officers helped in the case and Mr Hancock said: “We have taken a firm line with enforcement action against rogue traders.
“We would also urge consumers to be more cautious.”
For local businesses you can trust call 08454 04 05 06 or visit buywithconfidence.gov.uk