Belfast Telegraph

Police issue warning to vulnerable people over bogus traders

Police in south and east Belfast are warning the older and more vulnerable people within the community to be wary and vigilant when employing contractors to carry out work around their homes.

The warning comes after a recent incident during which an elderly couple were charged a substantial amount of money to have their driveway power hosed and some maintenance done to their garden.

When the alarm was raised, checks were carried out and it transpired that the elderly couple were charged an exorbitant amount for this work.

Elderly customers can be particularly at risk from bogus traders/callers who set out to gain their confidence before taking financial advantage of them.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “We would urge people who require to have work done to their homes not to act on the spur of the moment, but to take their time and obtain quotes from a number of companies before making any decision to have the work carried out. It is important to use reputable and long established firms that you know and can trust rather than people who arrive on your doorstep unannounced.

“Unfortunately some vulnerable people still fall victim to rogue workmen who then demand large sums of money.

“Isolated and pressured into paying, the victims are often driven to a bank, building society or post office to withdraw the cash.

“In the past, the majority of reported incidents have involved callers offering to tarmac driveways, gardening work, gutter replacements or power washing roofs and driveways.

“These workmen normally do not carry identification, are reluctant to give an estimate in writing and will normally ask for cash, which should set the alarm bells ringing straight away, and be your cue to say no, and close the door.”

The spokesperson gave advice for residents:

l Keep front and back doors locked

l Fit a door security chain and use it

l Always ask for an identity card and check it carefully

l Always use reputable tradesmen

l Never do business with cold callers

l Don’t sign on the spot if a contract is produced

l Do not keep large amounts of money in your house

l Note the description of the caller and where possible the registration number of any vehicles used

l Never agree to go to your bank/building society/post office to withdraw money

l If a doorstep seller/trader refuses to leave your premises, close the door and dial ‘999’

For further advice contact the Crime Prevention Office for South and East Belfast on 9090 1765.

Belfast Telegraph

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