Rogue traders and doorstep crime
Rogue traders are typically fraudulent individuals who show up uninvited and offer to do work on your home, such as repairs to your roof, driveway or garden.
Other examples include door-to-door sales people who may claim to be ex-convicts on a probation scheme, or to have a disability. The goods are usually overpriced and sub-standard and if you buy off them you may continue to be targetted.
- target older and more vulnerable people
- change from being very friendly to extremely intimidating
- demand more money than first agreed upon
- disappear once you've paid them, without finishing a job or sometimes not even starting it at all
Rogue traders can fraudulently gain access to your property and then invent some problem that needs urgent attention. For example, they may say they're working on your neighbour's property and need access to yours to check a leak or some other problem. Don't believe such stories no matter how plausible they seem.
Incidents involving elderly people being escorted to their bank to withdraw tens of thousands of pounds aren't unusual.
Dealing with cold callers
We advise that you don't answer the door to anyone you're not expecting - but if you do, just say no. Tell them you have a friend or relative that helps you, or that you don't need whatever you are offering and close the door. If they persist, tell them to leave or you'll call the police. Make sure you have a security chain on your door and always use it. You can find advice on keeping your home safe on the Victim Support website.
Don't be fooled by dodgy sales talk such as:
- "We’re working around the corner and noticed a loose tile on your roof"
- "We're in your area offering a special price if you agree today"
- "I’ve just done a job for your neighbour"
- "We’ve got material left over from another job"
What if my house does need repairs
You shouldn't be making decisions about buying goods or services on the doorstep - you won’t be able to shop around and compare quotes or prices. Remember that reputable traders are usually busy and therefore unlikely to be able to start any works immediately.
The law gives you extra rights about cancellation of contracts made in your home or away from business premises, but it's best not to agree to anything in the first place. Rogue traders and conmen don't give refunds.
If you do need home improvements done, read the Citizens Advice guidance and check the links to various schemes from our Choosing a trader pages. If you're over 60 or disabled you may be able to access our Handyperson scheme.
If you do need home improvements done, read the Citizens Advice guidance and check the links to various schemes from our Choosing a trader page (hyperlink to revised page). If you are over 60 or disabled you may be able to access our Handyperson scheme.
What we're doing to stop these crimes
One of our priorities is to combat and frustrate the activities of rogue traders. We've supported national initiatives such as the 'Doorstoppers' campaign and No Cold Calling Control Zones.
We also support a campaign by London Trading Standards and the launch of a helpful guidance booklet on the issue. This can be downloaded or we can send a hard copy on request. The booklet contains top tips and guidance on the issues.
Other activities include:
- supporting the banking protocol by engaging with local banks and building societies on the indicators that a customer may be the victim of a doorstep crime
- promoting advice and best practice on choosing a reputable trader
- offering educational talks to community groups
- investigating local incidents and using proceeds of crime legislation to prosecute those who handle money from rogue trading activities
Where to report suspect callers
If you think rogue traders or other doorstep criminals are active in your area, call the police. If you see vehicles being used to carry out the crimes, record and report the registration plate details.
If you have a neighbourhood watch scheme, tell the co-ordinators so they can alert other residents.
If you wish to report a doorstep crime, contact your local police or see our reporting a Trading Standards issue page.
Page last updated: 21 July 2023