Cold Callers and Distraction Burglary Advice

Police and Trading Standards often receive reports of traders cold calling at the door and telling residents that they need work to be done to their home or garden, for example that their roof or guttering are damaged or their trees are unsafe and need work. The work has then been badly done or sometimes the price has jumped by ten times because the trader “helpfully” found other things that also needed to be fixed!

We also receive reports about cold callers offering to do gardening work, driveways or roof cleaning. In some driveway cleaning cases the traders have persuaded the customer to have the back patio cleaned as well as the front drive, causing the price to jump up hugely from the original estimate.

Trading Standards and Police advise that you never have work done by anyone who cold calls. No reputable trader ever approaches a customer in this way.
It is a good idea to display a “No Cold Callers” sticker in your window and turn away any callers you don’t know, if possible without opening the door.

If you think your home or garden needs work, please use a trader recommended by a neighbour or friend or call the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506 to find a reputable local trader, approved by Trading Standards. You should also obtain three quotes to check the price is competitive and the work really needs doing – never rely on the word of a single trader.

Any contracts over £42 that are agreed in a customer’s home are subject to 14 day cooling off rights. The homeowner must be given written information about their right to cancel, about the identity of the trader who is doing the work and the total cost of the work to be carried out. A statement on a flyer or business card about a 14 day cooling off period is not enough. If the customer requires the work to start within the 14 day cooling off period, they must authorise this in writing.

Distraction Burglary

These are committed by cold callers using a distraction to gain access to an address. For example a person posing as a water board official who knocks on the door and states there is a problem with your water supply and they need to check your water through the taps. Whilst the person walks through with you to check the water and runs the the tap, his associate will sneak in and go through your possessions. The sound of the water will distract any noise from your attention.

This type of crime is often aimed at the elderly and vulnerable.


Check with the company they represent
“No Cold Callers” stickers can be obtained from your local policing team or from your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau.


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