Door-to-door sales and bogus tradesmen

What does this type of fraud involve?

Legitimate doorstep selling involves someone selling you goods or services in your home or on your doorstep. Many honest businesses use this technique - but so do fraudsters.

Buying on your doorstep can be convenient. But a salesman using clever tactics can pressurise you into buying something you don’t want or something that is poor value for money.

Door-to-door frauds can take many forms, such as:

  • Pressure selling
  • Unfair contracts
  • Overpriced or substandard home maintenance or improvements
  • Phoney consumer surveys
  • Bogus charity collections.

How do these types of fraud affect me?

Having purchased, or agreed to purchase, goods or services from a legitimate salesperson, your chances of receiving a refund may be limited if you fail to cancel the contract inside any cooling off period. Once the cooling off period has expired, you will have to pay for the goods or services you bought - whether you want them or not.

Having purchased goods or services, you may find the same salesperson or other salespeople call or visit you again and again. That’s because you will be marked as an easy target for future sales if your name ends up on a list of willing buyers.

Bogus salespeople will provide false identity or contact information, making it impossible for you to identify or contact them. If you have paid them in advance, you will not get any money back.

When filling in forms or speaking to the salesperson, you risk revealing confidential details that a fraudster could use to assume your identity or take control of your finances. This may allow a fraudster to steal money from your account or order goods and services in your name.

Even if your bank or insurance policy covers any loss, you will still have to contend with a damaged credit rating, continued correspondence over a prolonged period to repair the damage, and the emotional distress and anxiety identity theft can cause.

Apart from suffering direct financial losses, you might have opened your door to a burglar or someone who wants to get inside your property to enable other people to break in. Once they get through your door, fraudulent salespeople will take note of your valuables and any security measures you have in place.

What should I do?

When dealing with any door-to-door salesperson, always remember to:

  • Check the seller’s identity
  • Take control by asking the questions
  • Don’t sign on the spot, shop around
  • If in any doubt, ask the person to leave or call your local Trading Standards Authority.

If you’re suspicious, why not ask the salesman if you can take their photograph - on your mobile phone, for example? If the person is legitimate, they probably won’t mind.

If you decide to buy:

  • Don’t be rushed into a sale
  • Always get any agreement you make in writing
  • Usually, you have a seven-day cooling off period. So if you decide to cancel the contract, act fast
  • Think very carefully about having any work done or goods delivered during the cooling off period. You may have to pay even if you change your mind.

You can report the salesperson to your local Trading Standards Authority if you believe they have sold you faulty, inferior or overpriced products or services.

Similarly, you can seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau on terms and conditions of any agreement or contract you may have signed.

If you have made the payment by credit/debit card or by cheque, contact your credit card company and/or bank and advise them that you are a victim of improper door-to-door sales techniques and your identity or financial details may have been compromised. They will advise you on cancelling payments and ensuring your finances remain secure.

Reporting fraud

If you're a victim of fraud that is a crime in progress and you need an immediate police response dial 999.

If it is a non-emergency situation,

Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

You can also report fraud or find further advice and information on the Action Fraud website.