As Scots struggle with price increases and rising energy bills, a new campaign has been launched to help avoid being scammed by doorstep fraudsters.
The nationwide Shut Out Scammers campaign has been launched by Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) and Police Scotland, in an effort to raise awareness of doorstep crime.
Additionally, it also aims to help people avoid being mis-sold energy efficiency measures and other forms of financial harm amid the cost of living crisis.
The campaign wants to “empower consumers” rather than make them “fearful and to encourage the reporting of scams”.
According to a recent survey run by TSS, some of the most common cold calls and scams now relate to energy efficiency products.
More than a third of survey respondents said they were told by a cold caller that they were eligible to receive new insulation under a Government scheme.
The Shut out Scammers campaign will run from April 17 to May 14.
Councillor Maureen Chalmers, chair of TSS said: “It is more important than ever to protect consumers from scammers and rogue traders who are adapting their methods to changing circumstances.”
She urged consumers to avoid dealing with cold callers, and instead seek out local traders vetted by TSS who have made a commitment to Wtreat customers fairly”.
Ms Chalmers added that people should do research into companies before agreeing to get any work done, while remembering that online ads can be misleading and reviews can be faked.
She added: “It is advisable to check at least three different review sites and to get more than one quote for a piece of work.
“We are also asking people to look out for family members, friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable and to report any suspicious behaviour to Advice Direct Scotland or Police Scotland.”
Detective superintendent Andy Patrick from Police Scotland said that scams usually target vulnerable people, such as the elderly.
He added that those responsible often try to pass themselves off as legitimate tradespeople to gain access to a victim’s property, or charge large sums of money while doing little to no work.
Mr Patrick added: “Members of the public who witness potential doorstep crime are asked to contact police immediately, so we can investigate and identify offenders.”
“The Police Scotland website has lots of useful information on staying safe from doorstep criminals and this can be obtained by visiting www.scotland.police.uk.”
Colin Mathieson, from Advice Direct Scotland, suggested:
- Checking the credentials of anyone people engage with, whether it be over the phone or online.
- Asking for identification
- Checking with official organisations or companies if the tradesperson or firm is legitimate
- Reporting suspected scams and suspicious activity to Advice Direct online or by calling 0808 164 6000.
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