Action against scams is intensifying, with Police Scotland and Trading Standards Scotland piloting No Cold Call Zones in the Glenrothes area.
Silver Line Scotland sometimes hears from people who have had very serious scams incidents. One woman at risk of losing her home told us she had been scammed into believing that a company was going to buy her house to pay off her debts, and then let her continue to live in it for a small rent. Another caller’s father had lost up to £10,000 to a doorstep ‘tradesman’ who told him his roof needed repairs, but who never carried out any of the work he promised. We often hear from people who have not been scammed, but who have been called or approached by someone whom they suspect is not legitimate.
So its good news that Police Scotland and Trading Standards Scotland are in the process of putting in place a series of No Cold Call Zones in the Glenrothes area aimed at reducing the number of bogus worker crimes. These Zones will be signed as not allowing people to cold call any of the addresses in the designated area, or leave themselves open to being dealt with for aggressive sales practices by Trading Standards. A similar initiative in Cardiff and has shown that, with local community support, it can drastically reduce crime levels.
While we await more information on the success of this initiative, and whether there is potential to introduce No Cold Call Zones elsewhere in Scotland, older householders need to remain alert to the risk of scams.
If you or someone you know has been scammed, or you are concerned that personal information might have been given to a scammer, you can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 for information and advice, or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk. You can also report an incident to this number, and will receive a crime reference number if you do.
If you are concerned about nuisance telephone calls you can discuss options for reducing these with your telephone provider, most of whom have a nuisance calls department. You can also register with the Telephone Preference Service, although this may not deter actual scammers.
With regard to cold callers it’s a good idea to put the door chain on when you answer the door (but not to keep it on all the time as this will prevent anyone with a key from entering, such as a home help.) Don’t agree to anything, sign a contract or pay money until you have talked to someone you trust, and never let anyone persuade you to go to your bank and withdraw cash for a payment. Don’t be afraid to say no, and to ask a salesperson to leave. If they refuse, call the police.
Gas, electricity and water companies are all required to offer special services to customers of State Pension Age, or with disabilities, which include doorstep password schemes to help you verify that their representatives are genuine.
You can call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90 to request free guides for staying safe, internet security and avoiding scams. Alternatively you can download them here.