Nationwide Shut out Scammers campaign launched by Trading Standards Scotland and Police Scotland to empower consumers to avoid doorstep scams

As more Scottish consumers struggle with price increases and rising energy bills, Trading Standards Scotland and Police Scotland have launched a nationwide Shut out Scammers campaign.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of doorstep crime, the mis-selling of energy efficiency measures and other forms of financial harm to which consumers are susceptible. It aims to empower consumers rather than make them fearful and to encourage the reporting of scams.
Rogue traders and companies are attempting to exploit the cost of living crisis and scam consumers by providing misleading information about products and services and posting misleading adverts and reviews online.

In addition to more traditional doorstep scams reported during the spring and summer months, with rogue traders offering to carry out home maintenance, roof repairs, gardening work or services such as gutter cleaning or pressure washing, fraudsters have adapted their methods to take advantage of consumers’ anxieties and uncertainties around the cost of living crisis.

In recent months there has been an increase in scams related to roof and wall coatings, with cold callers telling consumers that having the coating applied will save them money on their energy bills. They may say that a government subsidy is available and offer a discount if the consumer agrees to pay a deposit on the spot. However, once a deposit has been paid, the rogue traders usually fail to return to complete the work, or they do a sub-standard job. In several cases, they have power-washed roofs before applying the coating, which has caused damage to the tiles. 

The Shut out Scammers campaign will run throughout April. As part of the campaign, a scam awareness van will travel across Scotland between April and July, with local police and trading standards officers on hand to provide advice on avoiding doorstep scams. Resources such as no cold calling stickers and information leaflets will be available from the van, which will visit various community events and public spaces.

Councillor Maureen Chalmers, Chair of Trading Standards Scotland said

“It is more important than ever to protect consumers from scammers and rogue traders who are adapting their methods to changing circumstances.
“We urge consumers not to deal with cold callers and to seek local traders who have been vetted by Trading Standards and who have made a commitment to treat customers fairly via approved trader schemes. Do plenty of research into companies before agreeing to any work being undertaken, remembering that online adverts can be misleading and that reviews can be faked. 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 Police Scotland.”

Police Scotland’s Assistant Chief Constable, Tim Mairs, said:

“The Shut-Out Scammers campaign is extremely important for raising awareness of doorstep crime and providing communities with useful crime prevention advice. We are delighted to support this initiative for 2024.
“Doorstep criminals frequently prey on vulnerable individuals, using a range of tactics aimed at pressurising victims to part with money, or allow entry to their properties.
“We urge the public to report any potential bogus workmen or rogue trader activity they suspect is taking place in their area so that we can investigate and bring offenders to justice.
“Anyone looking for information to help prevent doorstep crime can visit the Police Scotland website at www.scotland.police.uk.”

Conor Forbes, director of Business Development an Policy for Advice Direct Scotland said:

“At consumeradvice.scot, our recent data reveals a concerning trend: a significant 22% uptick in financial losses suffered by Scottish consumers due to scams within the past year.
Particularly alarming is the prevalence of doorstep scams, an issue reflected in the inquiries we receive. To safeguard against such fraudulent activities, we strongly advocate for the utilisation of reputable traders when undertaking home renovations.
Additionally, in light of the financial strain caused by escalating energy and grocery costs over the past 18 months, opportunistic rogue traders and scammers have intensified their efforts. It is imperative for Scottish consumers to exercise heightened caution when dealing with cold callers and to prioritise the use of trusted traders for any home-related services.
“At consumeradvice.scot, our recent data reveals a concerning trend: a significant 22% uptick in financial losses suffered by Scottish consumers due to scams within the past year.
Particularly alarming is the prevalence of doorstep scams, an issue reflected in the inquiries we receive. To safeguard against such fraudulent activities, we strongly advocate for the utilisation of reputable traders when undertaking home renovations.
Additionally, in light of the financial strain caused by escalating energy and grocery costs over the past 18 months, opportunistic rogue traders and scammers have intensified their efforts. It is imperative for Scottish consumers to exercise heightened caution when dealing with cold callers and to prioritise the use of trusted traders for any home-related services.
This Shut our Scammers campaign is so important to highlight the methods carried out by unscrupulous traders.”

Jill Rosie, Assistant Director of statutory consumer body Consumer Scotland, said:

“It is vital members of the public are protected from the activities of rogue traders, particularly at a time when consumers are struggling with cost of living pressures.
“That is why Consumer Scotland is providing financial support to ensure the nationwide Shut Out Scammers campaign will reach as many consumers as possible, raising awareness of doorstep crime, the mis-selling of energy efficiency measures and other forms of financial harm”