Banks to help tackle doorstep crime
Banks and building societies are being urged to help protect their vulnerable people from handing over their hard-earned cash to doorstep criminals as part of this year’s National Consumer Week.
The calls come as a survey of doorstep crime victims has found that 16% of householders leave their house once a week or less, but when they do leave their house 76% do so to go to the bank or post office, making them a prime place to support vulnerable customers who may be targets for criminals.*
The findings are being released as partners across the sector are raising awareness of the practice to help protect neighbourhoods and disrupt doorstep criminals as part of the 2014 National Consumer Week. Major banks and building societies are backing the campaign to tackle doorstep crime and bank staff are being trained to help spot the signs of doorstep crime.
To promote staff interventions for suspicious transactions relating to vulnerable customers, National Trading Standards has delivered training to the financial crime leads for building societies through the Building Societies Association. A roundtable with all the leading banks and building societies is also planned, which will include some of the banks who already train their staff to look for the signs of doorstep crime.
Ruth Andrews, National Trading Standards Project Lead for Doorstep Crime, said:
“Time and time again we find that victims are taken to banks or building societies by offenders – sometimes frogmarched along high streets or taken in the offender’s van – to withdraw thousands of pounds to pay doorstep criminals for unnecessary work. It is a common feature of doorstep crime and shows how staff at banks and building societies can play a major role in preventing doorstep crime.
“We are working with banks, building societies and other financial institutions to train staff to identify the signs of potential victims of doorstep crime. But it’s also important for others in communities to play their part in spotting the signs of doorstep crime, such as a vulnerable, often elderly, neighbours being accompanied by an offender to visit a bank, building society, or post office. If you do suspect a case of doorstep crime, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.”
Stuart Skinner, Head of Fraud at Nationwide Building Society said:
“Fraud has many guises but the constant is that each and every type has a victim. It’s important that financial services providers build relationships with their customers so unusual activity can be spotted at the outset. Fraudsters are adept at luring people through techniques such as doorstep crime and vishing - where they call customers pretending to be from their financial services provider or from the police and trick them into either handing over key financial information, transferring money into another account or handing money over to a courier. This is why we regularly train our staff in relation to identifying fraud and out-of-character customer behaviour. For example, asking customers pertinent questions about their transactions where it is felt that fraud could be an underlying factor can help bring the issue to light before it is too late.”
With at least 169,000 cases of doorstep crime now estimated to take place in England and Wales per year*, the 2014 National Consumer Week sees the launch of the ‘Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders’ campaign, which encourages citizens to look out for signs that a neighbour or someone in their community may be being targeted by doorstep criminals and to step in and alert the authorities.
Doorstep crime involves criminals preying on vulnerable people – often older and living with ill health – by cold-calling at their homes and pressurising them into paying extortionate prices for unnecessary goods or services. The outcome is often botched jobs on roofs, driveways and gardens and the practice often sees victims being frogmarched into banks and building societies to withdraw large sums of cash.
Throughout this week, community events will be taking place across the country to equip people to help spot doorstep criminals and to promote ‘Nominated Neighbour’ schemes which are available in many areas. These are being led by the Trading Standards Institute, Citizens Advice and Trading Standards Scotland.
For more information on how to get involved in National Consumer Week 2014 and #stoproguetraders, please visit the TSI website.
Signs an unwanted doorstep caller may be visiting a neighbour:
- A van is parked nearby with workmen in, on, or near your neighbour's property
- Ladders or scaffolding suddenly appear
- Noises such as banging, drilling, or chainsaws
- Trees are suddenly removed or pruned in your neighbour's garden
- Poor quality work visible on the roof, driveway, or property
- Your neighbour appears anxious or distressed
- Your neighbour leaves their house more frequently to visit bank, building society, or post office, particularly if they are accompanied by a trader
To report a suspected doorstep criminal, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
For more information, including interview opportunities and case studies, please contact National Trading Standards on 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Trading Standards Scotland, please contact Laura Jamieson on 0141 577 3320.
Notes to Editors
*Results from a survey carried out by National Trading Standards of 118 victims, with the latest figures taken in November 2014
** A project carried out assessing the extent of Door Step Crime in England and Wales showed that there are currently around 16,900 reports relating to DSC made to trading standards annually. Due to established low reporting rates, it is estimated that this represents only 10 - 20% of incidents that are actually taking place. So in fact, the true number of incidents annually is estimated to be 84,500 - 169,000. Examination of a sample of reports shows that average amount of consumer detriment per incident is around £1,000.
National Consumer Week
- National Consumer Week has been running since 1989 and has covered subjects including second hand car buying, car boot sales, child care seats, quality of goods, safety, consumer rights, customer care and health and environment.
- This year’s National Consumer Week focuses on a different approach to tackling doorstep crime each day, working with partners in each sector to help provide guidance for and advice:
Tuesday: Enforcement – highlighting new efforts to clamp down on rogue traders and detailing recent investigations
Wednesday: Prevention – focusing on how organisations can step in to help prevent people falling victim to doorstep crime, including banks and building societies
Thursday: Responsible businesses – highlighting the role of responsible business and the effects of doorstep crime on reputable traders
Friday: Safeguarding victims: Examining the real effects of doorstep crime on victims and their families
About National Trading Standards
- The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
- The National Trading Standards Board provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
About Trading Standards Scotland
- Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) is funded by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to undertake coordination and enforcement of cross boundary and national casework in Scotland.
- TSS works closely with National Trading Standards to ensure relevant information is shared.
- For any additional press enquiries, please contact Laura Jamieson on 0141 577 3320.
About the Consumer Protection Partnership
The Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) was formed in April 2012 as part of a suite of changes to the consumer landscape. The current members of the CPP are: Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, CMA, Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Northern Ireland, Financial Conduct Authority, National Trading Standards and the Trading Standards Institute. The CPP’s objective is to bring together these key consumer partners within the reformed consumer landscape to better identify, prioritise and coordinate collective action to tackle the issues causing greatest harm to consumers. In essence, the CPP’s role is to ensure that CPP partners work together to tackle detriment more effectively than they could through working in isolation.