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Cold Calling/Doorstep Crime

Information

Here you will find information on cold calling, doorstep crime, setting up cold calling zones, etc.

Introduction

Ceredigion Trading Standards Service and Dyfed-Powys Police are supporting Parish, Town Councils and Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators, etc., to create Cold Calling Control Zones in the county. The objective is to enable residents to look after themselves on their own doorsteps and to identify vulnerable residents who need support.

Ceredigion Trading Standards and Dyfed Powys Police work closely together to tackle rogue traders and doorstep crime. To find out further information about neighbourhood policing, visit the Dyfed-Powys Police website or telephone 101.

What is Door step crime?

The majority of people who knock on your door are likely to be genuine. However, it is important to know that some are rogue traders, doorstep criminals and uninvited sales people and may turn up unannounced, with the intention of tricking their way into your home.

So-called 'doorstep crime' often results from an initial cold call. Unscrupulous traders will prey on the elderly and vulnerable members of society, carry out unnecessary, substandard and sometimes even dangerous work and then use strong arm tactics to persuade consumers to part with large sums of money for poor workmanship. In addition, burglars may use cold calling as a pretext to engage in distraction burglary or sneak in thefts.

What is Cold Calling?

Cold calling is the act of making unrequested and uninvited visits to consumers' homes with the intention of selling goods or services.

Is Cold Calling Illegal?

Cold calling is currently not illegal. However, it is a practice that the vast majority of people do not want. Some people may find it intimidating, frightening and intrusive not to mention irritating and frustrating at times.

Anyone who does sell you goods or services that cost more than £42 is required to provide you with a written notice giving you 14 days in which to cancel. If this notice is not provided the contract for the goods or services will not be enforceable meaning you will not have to pay even if goods have been provided or work has been carried out. Anyone who fails to give this notice will also be committing a criminal offence, which Trading Standards will investigate. It does not matter whether the visit is one that you have requested yourself or whether it is unsolicited.

Cold Calling Control Zones

What are they?

The Cold Calling Control Zone Scheme is an initiative to help combat the problem of doorstep crime. The zones aim to make residents feel safer in their own homes and reduce crime, and the fear of crime arising from doorstep callers, bogus workmen, high pressure salespeople, bogus officials and distraction burglary operating in your area.

It is now well established that distraction burglaries and rogue trading are interlinked - all too often, the seemingly innocent doorstep seller is actually checking things out for a re-visit to carry out a burglary or distraction burglary.

Whilst this type of criminal behaviour can impact on anybody in any place, research shows that older people are particularly vulnerable, especially those living alone.

Cold Calling Control Zones do not ban cold callers or create exclusion zones, however they can be effective in deterring unscrupulous cold callers from approaching people living in the zones and giving those residents the confidence to say "No".

Cold Calling Control Zones are a low maintenance initiative and, once established, are easily sustained. The zones have been rolled out nationally and have been show to reduce overall crime in the areas where they now exist.

How do you recognise a Cold Calling Zone?

A Cold Calling Control Zone is identified by signs on lamp posts displayed at the entrance and exit points of a zone. These inform traders that they are entering an area where residents do not buy goods and services at the door. Each household receives an information booklet offering advice and a sticker to display on a front door or window to act as a reminder to any trader that calls.

How to Set up a Cold Calling Control Zone?

If you believe that the area where you live needs a cold calling control zone, there are a number of points to consider before you can set up a zone:

  • Funding - The amount needed will vary depending on the size of the zone. There is a small cost to setting up a zone and it will depend on how big the zone is i.e. the amount of signs, packs and letters needed. Cold Calling Control Zones can be funded from a range of sources. Some examples of recent funding opportunities have been through Parish/Community Councils, The Proceeds of Crime Act (through the Police), Community Safety Partnerships and Housing Associations. It is also possible for a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator to arrange for self costing;
  • There also needs to be evidence, within the area, to suggest that cold calling is a problem - For a Cold Calling Control Zone to be set up, there needs to be substantial evidence to prove that there is an issue with doorstep crime, rogue traders or "pushy" sales people within the area. The best way to ensure this information is recorded is to call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06. Alternatively, speak with your local police team if you have concerns that this is happening. If such activity is causing residents to feel unsafe and intimidated in their homes, or just frustrated at the inconvenience callers are causing, then a zone may be the answer;
  • You will need to get the support of the local Police and the Trading Standards Service and show that your area fits the criteria to become a zone - Cold calling control zones are most suitable for areas where a large proportion of the residents are vulnerable for example the elderly or residents who have experienced doorstep crimes and /or burglaries or are subject to regular calls from doorstep callers attempting to sell goods and services which the residents find hard to cope with;
  • Partnership working is vital to ensure zones are created and managed efficiently and effectively - You will need to show that the residents want the scheme. Cold calling control zones should not be imposed on residents so you will need to consult with them to make sure they want their areas to become a zone. There is no point in making an area a Cold calling control zone if the residents do not support it as it will not work. The Trading Standards Service would be willing to attend any public meeting you may decide to hold to seek residents' views on setting up such a zone. However, not everyone would be able to attend such a meeting. We recommend that you write to each resident in the zone and give them the opportunity to object to the zone going ahead;
  • We also recommend that there is a designated person in place who is willing to be the point of contact to ensure sustainability;
  • If there is enough support to set up a zone in your area, complete a Cold Calling Control Zone Request Form and send it to Ceredigion Trading Standards. Cold Calling Control Zone Request Form is available.
  • Once a zone is launched, the Trading Standards Service will advise you on suitable signs to display on lamp posts, etc., for the zone, and while stocks last, will be able to provide Resident's Packs (including stickers to display in a front door/window) for distribution to all households in the zone. Details of the zone will be placed on Ceredigion County Council's website.

Ceredigion Cold Calling Control Zones

There are Cold Calling Control Zones in Ceredigion. See the list below of current zones.

Area Location No. of Households in zone
Llanbadarn Fawr 1 Parc Yr Onnen & Cwrt Yr Onnen 39
Llanbadarn Fawr 2 Brynrheidol Estate 75
Llanbadarn Fawr 3 Maes Mawr Estate 86
Llanbadarn Fawr 4 Brynglas Road 53
Llanbadarn Fawr 5 Cae Ceredig 86


If you live in an area covered by a zone and are aware of cold calling taking place, or would like further information on setting up a zone in your area, please contact 03454 04 05 06.

Reporting Cold Callers

If you are in a zone and continue to get persistent callers:

  • Refuse to do business with them. Point out that the area is a Cold Calling Control Zone.
  • Make a note of who they are and any vehicle they are travelling in, including the registration of the vehicle. Use the template letter below to send to traders to highlight the relevant regulations.
  • Report the information to Ceredigion Trading Standards Service via the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 and the Police on 101. However if you feel threatened ring 999. The system for dealing with incidents of unwanted callers within a Cold Calling Control Zone will vary dependent upon the type of cold call and available resource. Once reported Ceredigion Trading Standards and/or the police will look into the incident and take further action if necessary.

If you have entered into a contract with a doorstep seller:

  • If you have information about traders who are cold calling or require advice on your consumer rights or doorstep crime contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06. Trading Standards can check that you were given the relevant paperwork and that no other criminal offences have been committed.