Thursday, 24 May 2012

Warning as doorstep callers target Barrow residents

Detectives in Barrow are warning elderly residents to be vigilant after two separate incidents of cold calling were reported to police on Monday 21st May.

Police were called after two men, believed to be in their 30s, approached different properties and power washed driveways without permission of the elderly owners, before demanding a large amount of cash for the work.

The first incident reported to police happened during at a property in the Oxford Street area and the second in the Westbourne Avenue area. The men are believed to be using a white transit type van and one the males is described as around 5’5” tall, with a foreign accent and wearing combat style shorts.

During the first incident, the elderly occupant paid the two men however during the second incident, a neighbour interrupted the work so cash was not handed over.

Detective Constable Kerry Harris is investigating. She said “We are investigating these two incidents and wish to remind local people to be vigilant and look out for neighbours, friends and family.

“Be extremely wary of callers who arrive unannounced on your doorstep and offer to sell you products, make repairs to the house or do other work for you. Don’t feel pressured to make instant decisions - discuss it with relatives or friends and consider contacting your local Trading Standards Office for advice if you need it.

“Treat every stranger who calls on your door with caution. If you are worried, dial 999 immediately and ask for the police. If it is not an emergency but you want to speak to an officer or report something suspicious, you can contact Cumbria Police on 101.”

Cold callers or bogus callers succeed because they sound believable, so don't be fooled. Make sure in your own mind that they are whom they claim to be by following these simple steps:

•Think before you open the door - use your chain and spy hole or look out of the window to see if you recognise them. Keep your front and back doors locked.
•Ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradesmen should carry an identification card with their photograph on.
•Check this carefully. If you are unsure, telephone the company the caller claims to represent.
•The Utilities now offer a password identification system. Any caller from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password as additional proof of identity.
•If in doubt, keep them out!
•Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming that they have seen something untoward in your rear garden or somewhere which may encourage you to leave your house - they may have an accomplice awaiting this distraction.
•If you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don't let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to be present on their return or ask the caller to contact this person.
•Also be extremely wary of callers who offer to sell you products, make repairs to the house or do other work for you. Always discuss it with relatives or friends and consider contacting your local Trading Standards Office for advice.
•Think carefully about any telephone calls or emails you receive and do not give out any personal information or bank or credit card details.
•Trading Standards and Police advise that if you are considering home security, take time to research the  providers in your area, get recommendations from friends or family or look on your local Trading Standards web site for approved traders.  

If you feel you have been a victim of cold callers, or have any information in respect of the two incidents, please contact Barrow CID on 101.

The Citizens Advice Consumer Service provides free, confirdential and impartial advice on consumer issues.

Visit or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506

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