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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

Most people are honest, however there are some unscrupulous individuals who are only interested in taking your money from you.

They may try to trick you into giving them money or paying for something you don’t need, or they may just try to steal money and/or valuables from you. 

Unfortunately, some people are more likely to be a target for these rogue traders, doorstep criminals and scammers but there are things you can do to protect yourself and make it more difficult for them.

Distraction burglary

Distraction burglary is when bogus callers try to trick their way into your home to steal money and valuables. These thieves can seem genuine and might pretend to be from the council, or a utilities company.

They often work in pairs , or even with children. One will keep you talking at the front door while the other tries to access your house via a back door or window. Some even plead for help, perhaps asking for a glass of water or access to a toilet.

What to do:

  • ask for their identity card and check it carefully. Keep the telephone numbers for your gas, electricity and water services handy – that way you can easily call and check an official’s identity
  • join your gas or electricity companies’ password schemes. This is where you arrange a password with the company to check that their representatives are genuine

Rogue traders and cold callers

Rogue traders will knock on your door or phone you up to offer you services you don’t need. They may try to push you into agreeing to unnecessary home repairs or improvements, often at extortionate prices, e.g. alleged issues with your roof or fascias. Once they believe you are vulnerable, they will keep finding more jobs they say need to be done.

What to do:

  • don’t agree to sign a contract or hand over money until you've talked to someone you trust
  • never disclose your PIN number or let anyone persuade you to hand over your bank card. Never let someone take you to the bank to withdraw cash for a payment
  • don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson to leave. If they refuse, call the police

Bogus charity collections

This is when fraudsters go door-to-door asking for donations of money, clothing or household goods for a charity. In fact, this is a trick to steal money from you. Any items you give will be sold on.

What to do:

  • real charities have to be registered with the Charity Commission and display their registration details on collecting bags and envelopes
  • check the registered charity number on the Charity Commission website. You can also report charity donation fraud to them
  • remember there are other ways to give to charity, so never feel guilty about saying no to someone who knocks on your door.

Fake consumer surveys

Some scammers ask you to complete a survey so they can get hold of your personal details, or use it as a cover for persuading you to buy something you don’t want or need.

What to do:

  • ask for an identity card and check it carefully. Phone the company they represent – get the number from your phone book rather than calling a number they give you
  • if you don’t feel comfortable doing a survey, ask them to leave. You don’t have to do any surveys if you don’t want to.

Remember, when someone knocks on your door:

  • look through your spy hole or window
  • are you expecting anyone?
  • do you know them?
  • check the identity of the caller before opening the door
  • don’t let any caller pressure you into making a quick decision
  • don’t feel you are being rude or uncaring by saying ‘no’ – your own safety is more important
  • if you are not sure, don't open the door

You could ask your local council to see if you are in a No Cold Caller Zone. This deters some rogue traders and fraudsters, and will make you feel more confident telling them to go away. 

Scam letters and phone calls

Of course, not all scammers come to your house to try to trick you out of your money – nowadays, most scammers prefer emails, texts or phone calls. You are told that you’ve won some money or a prize and asked to provide your bank details to receive your winnings. In fact, they just want to empty your bank account.

Another popular – and sophisticated – scam involves the fraudsters contacting you by phone, email or text pretending to be your bank. You’ll be told of a problem, ironically usually some ‘suspicious activity’ on your account, and asked to provide account numbers or passwords. Remember, banks never ask you to give them these details. So if someone who says they’re from your bank asks you for them, it’s almost certainly a scam. Just put the phone down.

You might even be offered the chance to put your money into an investment that will pay you a lot of interest or make you a big profit. Never invest your money without getting financial advice – if something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is!

What to do:

  • never respond to letters or phone calls telling you that you’ve won a prize or a competition unless you can remember entering it. Ask a friend or family member for advice
  • remember your bank and / or building society will never ring you to ask for your account details
  • never respond to a letter or phone call offering you the chance to invest in something without taking independent financial advice.

What to do if you suspect you’ve been a victim?

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam and/or doorstop crime, contact your local council’s Trading Standards immediately. Alternatively, report the incident to Citizens Advice consumer helpline or the matter to Action Fraud.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, you should ring 999.

If you think a crime might have taken place, please ring the police and be careful not to remove or destroy any evidence.

Last updated: 04/05/2023