Doorstep callers

Report doorstep callers and tips on how to avoid being caught out.

If a crime is in progress and the suspect is still at the location, and it feels like the situation could get heated or violent, or someone is in immediate danger and needs support right away, you should contact Sussex Police directly on 999.

If you have recently been a victim of a doorstep caller, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on Freephone 0808 223 1133 or report it to us online.

What are doorstep callers?  

Unscrupulous traders will often target the elderly, isolated householders and people living alone. They will try and engage in conversation with the following pattern:  

  • They will normally cold call offering to carry out work for the householder at a low price. Often they will start work without permission, on the basis that they had been asked for a quote.
  • Once work has begun, the price goes up rapidly and extra work is claimed to be required in order to complete the job.
  • They may be verbally aggressive in order to pressure householders into paying or agreeing to extra work. 
  • They may use confusion tactics over quotes and pricing in order to make householders doubt what they thought they had agreed. Typically, there is nothing in writing. Often they will fail to provide the required notice detailing cancellation rights, which is a criminal offence.
  • They will often escort householders to the bank to make cash withdrawals. 

What you can do to avoid being caught 

  • Keep your front and back doors secure at all times.
  • If someone comes to your door, observe this code:
    • Stop: Are you expecting anybody? Do they have an appointment?
    • Chain: Secure the door bar or chain before opening the door.
    • Check: Ask for and double check the caller's ID.
  • If they offer to do work on your property say "No thanks" and shut the door.
  • Do not keep large sums of money at home.

'No cold-calling' pack

Our information pack is designed to create 'no cold-calling' households. It contains: 

  • a leaflet giving general advice and tips on dealing with cold-callers
  • details of our Buy With Confidence scheme, which helps you find a reputable trader - all members of the scheme have been vetted and approved by West Sussex Trading Standards
  • a door or window sticker which, when displayed, makes it clear to anybody calling at a property that cold-callers are not welcome and that the residents within will not deal with them at the door - callers who ignore this may be committing an offence under recently introduced consumer protection legislation.
Last updated:
4 January 2022
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