Alarm raised after rise in complaints about crime fear conmen

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Elderly and vulnerable residents are being warned to be on their guard against rogue callers offering free burglar alarms after a spate of reports to Derbyshire County Council.

Con men are targeting pensioners in the county claiming crime is rising in the area, they are working in conjunction with police, and they are giving away free alarms which are linked to the police station.

A follow-up home visit is arranged where they attempt to sell the alarms through a pressurised sales pitch which can last for hours.

Having signed an agreement the victim finds the alarms are very expensive, despite the ‘free’ claims, and are subject to a costly maintenance agreement which can run for years.

In one of the worst cases an elderly Derbyshire dementia sufferer was persuaded to pay well over the odds for an alarm – even though he already had one installed at his home.

Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “This is a despicable con which targets some of the most vulnerable members of the community and we’d urge everyone to be extra vigilant.

“Anyone thinking of buying an alarm for their property should obtain several quotes before making a commitment.

“A list of reputable companies can be found through our Trusted Trader scheme, where all traders are vetted for trustworthiness before they are allowed to join the scheme.

“The message remains clear, if something appears too good to be true it probably is.”

Anyone buying goods costing over £35 from a trader at their door has a seven-day ‘cooling off’ period where they can change their mind. The trader must give the buyer a written cancellation notice option when they buy the goods or service. Failure to do this is a criminal offence.

Derbyshire County Council runs a ‘Burglar Alarms for Victims Project’ which gives free or low cost alarms to burglary victims in appropriate circumstances. Victims must be referred by police.

People who believe they have been targeted by rogue traders should report the incident to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.

To find a Trusted Trader visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/tt or call 08456 058 058.