From Tony Hibberd, Community Fire Safety Officer, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service
The Fire Service has long recognised that elderly people can be an at risk group from fire. As a result we, in the South Cambs District are actively engaged in providing free smoke alarms and home fire risk assessments, as are our colleagues across the County.
Sadly some private companies also recognise this vulnerability, but their motives are more driven by profit. After carrying out safety checks recently we received reports that some salespeople were using high-pressure sales tactics on elderly householders, and then charging excessively for the devices sold and fitted.
In one case this amounted to over £1,000 for equipment that the purchaser did not need.
Not all companies selling safety devices take advantage of peoples concerns about fire, but I would urge all householders to be wary before agreeing to have safety devices fitted. The usual tactic is to 'cold call' either in person or, more often, by telephone. The occupier is told that fire and home security safety checks are being carried out in the area and that they have one or two appointments left. Once invited into your home the sales people can be both persuasive and persistent. Any reputable company representative should be able to provide you with full details of who they are, whom they work for and how the company can be contacted. Make sure you ask for proof of identity from ANY person who calls at your home. If you at all uncomfortable with the responses you get, you do not have to let that person in. Remember the Fire Service does not cold call under any circumstances and anyone doing so and claiming to represent the Fire Service is likely to be acting illegally and should be reported to the Police and Trading Standards.
Any member of the public with concerns about fire safety in the home can get free professional advice directly from the Fire Service with no strings attached. For the vast majority of domestic properties sensible precautions and the fitting of a working smoke alarm, is all that is required to provide protection.
Tony Hibberd Community Fire Safety 01223 376217
Cambridgeshire Constabulary 01223 358966
Trading Standards 084554 04 05 06
From Eric Spoelstra - Cambridgeshire Constabulary
If a doorstep seller knocks at your door
· believe all callers are genuine.
· believe the 'scare stories' a sales man may tell you - they are rarely true.
· believe genuine tarmac companies have 'loads over' - they don't.
· believe a cash deal is easier and cheaper.
· sign anything or pay for anything until you are sure about it
· believe special deals 'today only'- it's high pressure selling.
DON'T ANSWER YOUR DOOR UNLESS YOU ARE SURE.
· check the identity of the caller by asking to see an ID card.
· challenge anyone looking over your property- did you give them permission.
· consider if you really need the work done. Think before you decide. Shop around for the best deal.
· ask the caller to leave you with information to study at your leisure.
· remember you should be given a right to cancel a contract after 'cold calling'.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE APPROACHES WHICH MAY BE MADE
1. "I'm doing a survey"
2. "I advise on house security /house safety"
3 "You have a loose tile on your roof
4 "We were working next door when we noticed"
5 "We are only in this area for a week"
We are all annoyed from time to time by telephone sales people, or by the occasional silent phone call - but there are worse things that can be done to you by telephone. Our village newsletter for September 2005 gave details of a new scam. Callers stating they are from the security or fraud department of a credit card company pretend to be saving you from some sort of unauthorised spend on your card. During a very polished and plausible conversation they ask you to confirm a number from your card - which is all they need to be making purchases against your card within minutes of the end of the conversation. Don't disclose or confirm your card details to telephone callers.
Are now almost as common as offers to enhance your sexual performance or to provide you with replica watches. So called Phishing Scams are very convincing looking E-Mails, often taking you to convincing looking web sites, allegedly from banks or other commercial organisations, asking you to confirm details of your account or password. Again these appear entirely real - except that real companies don't need to ask you to confirm account or password details.
And how many times have you been approached by some relation of a manager or politician embarrased by the riches they have found or misappropriated and which they can't get out of their third world country. All they want are the details of your bank account so that they can transfer untold millions into it, and allow you to keep a percentage?