Lincolnshire Trading Standards is urging residents not to hand over cash on their doorstep this summer, unless they are confident a trader is genuine.
The county council service says uninvited visitors who are trying to sell a product or service could be a con artist or part of an organised crime gang.
These rogues may try to overcharge people, convince them to buy something they don’t need or even attempt to enter their home.
In the last year, 184 residents complained they had been targeted, and 67 of those admitted to handing over cash. In total, this cost residents around £92,000. Those figures could be higher still, as nationally it is predicted that up to 90 per cent of incidents are not reported.
From cleaning products to clothing, and televisions to paintings, officers say a rogue trader could be flogging anything.
Kirsty Toyne, Principal Trading Standards Officer, says: “A rogue trader will try and con you out of your cash however they can. They might claim to have a special offer for a short time only or that your neighbours have bought from them.
“Some will claim they are on probation and are trying to ‘get back on their feet’, and we have had one case where a crook pretended to be deaf and dumb. Thankfully he was caught out by a carer we had trained as part of Operation ‘REPEAT’, and can understand sign language.
“During these warmer summer months, we all like to leave our windows and doors open, but if they can’t con you, some of these criminals may try to gain entry and attempt to steal your belongings.
“If you haven’t invited someone to your home, don’t entertain them, even if they appear to be an official. If they are from a genuine company, they shouldn’t be pushy and will be willing to leave. If the visitor refuses to leave, please call the police immediately.
“It is important you don’t even get caught out once, because you could end up on a ‘suckers list’, which some criminals will share with others. Please look out for your neighbours, friends and family members, and help us fight doorstep crime.”
Share these top tips with family and friends:
* Use a door chain before letting anybody in, or have a peephole in your door
* Don’t be a victim of pressure selling tactics such as ‘for one day only’
* Don’t believe that you are the only person on the street who hasn’t bought from them
* They may claim to have a ‘hawkers licence’ which gives them permission to cold-call, or a Union Jack calling card. Neither of these are valid for selling door-to-door
* If you have arranged an appointment for someone to come and see you, use the password scheme when booking with the organisation. If the person calling on you doesn’t know the agreed password – don’t let them in
* Always lock your doors and windows to avoid a distraction burglary. This is when one person keeps your attention at the front door while an accomplice sneaks round the back
If you think you’ve been a victim of doorstep crime, call Lincolnshire Police on 101.
If you have been targeted by a scam, but haven’t handed over cash, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk.