Doorstep crime on the rise

24 November 2017

Doorstep crime on the rise

First Choice Homes Oldham has joined forces with Oldham Council to raise awareness of how to avoid falling victim to doorstep crime.

There has recently been a large increase in doorstep callers who are signing up customers to make legal claims and saying they are working on behalf of First Choice Homes and Oldham Council, which is not the case.

First Choice Homes Oldham has received a number of complaints from customers about these which they have passed on to the Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice and the Police.

Dave Smith, First Choice Homes Oldham Customer First Director, said: “Our customers are very important to us so as a good and responsible landlord we want to help protect them. There are many legitimate doorstep sellers who can be trusted and will carry out work to a good standard. However, we want to advise customers to be vigilant and not to make any on the spot decisions so they are not pressured into signing up to services and then have to cope with unforeseen costs.”

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “We are aware that fraudsters can use a number of different methods to commit doorstep crimes. There are some very simple ways that you can protect yourself from rogue traders for example, always keep your front and back doors locked and before you answer, stop to think if you are expecting anyone.

“Check to see who the caller is before opening the door, put and keep the chain on the door while you are talking to the caller. Ask for the caller's identity card and carefully check it, even if they have a prearranged appointment - all genuine callers will carry some ID. Be sure to check that they look like the person on the card, and that their name is the same as any caller you were expecting. Also don’t feel pressured into signing anything you are not comfortable with - if you are ever in doubt, shut the door and contact the police.”

Some of the practices rogue doorstep sellers use include: forging a customer’s signature, signing up customers to agreements without the person’s knowledge, and not giving them time to consider whether they want to use a service.

The law requires door-to-door sales people to give a notice detailing the cancellation rights, the length of the cooling-off period within which an agreement can be cancelled, and information on how the contract can be cancelled.

It is important to read any documents carefully before signing.  In some cases if you change your mind you may have to pay an exit fee.  Ask that documents are left with you and seek independent legal advice from the Citizen Advice Bureau. Do not feel pressured into signing documents.

The current customer satisfaction rate with repairs First Choice Homes Oldham carries out is 91 per cent.  The housing association continuously looks at ways improvements can be made to the service it provides.

If customers have any repair issues they should contact the service centre at First Choice Homes Oldham on 0161 393 7117 to report them.