A warning has gone out to residents in Darlington to alert and be cautious of dodgy doorstep sellers.

Trading standards officers from Darlington Borough Council issued the warning following a rise in the number of complaints about individuals going door-to-door posing as sellers offering garden, roofing and building services.

In recent months, some have attempted to sell overpriced household items using misleading claims to trick residents into making a purchase.

There have also been reports of sellers using aggressive tactics and intimidating behaviour, adding to the pressure on potential buyers prompting trading standards officers to advise residents to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

Councillor Amanda Riley, the council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, said: “We have received several reports of incidents across Darlington and would urge residents to be on their guard.

“We must work together as a community to combat these misleading claims and unfair trading practices, and we would ask any residents to let us know if they have any concerns about doorstep sellers.

“We’re also working closely with Durham Police and other law enforcement partners to tackle this issue.”

Darlington Neighbourhood Inspector Matt Plumb, of Durham Constabulary, added: “Fraudsters often target the elderly and the vulnerable so we would urge people to remain vigilant and check on their neighbours and family members.

Read more: 

Get more content including the stories that matter to your community from The Northern Echo for just £3 for 3 months for a limited time only here.

“Bogus traders can be extremely convincing and very persistent, which can blindside their victims into believing them before they take their hard-earned money.

“Competent traders will often encourage you to obtain more than quote one, and this is advice I recommend you follow.

“These incidents can be very distressing for victims and fraudsters do not care who they hurt in the process. Any suspicious activity can be reported to us on 101.”

Trading standards officers, part of the council’s Community Safety Team, have warned residents to help ensure their safety:

  • If you’re unsure about a caller, don’t open the door. It’s better to be cautious than fall victim to a scam.
  • Consider using a door chain or bar when answering the door. This provides an added layer of security and allows you to interact with sellers while maintaining some distance.
  • Always verify the identity of people who approach you unsolicited. Door-to-door sellers must have a pedlar's certificate, which you have the right to inspect.
  • Refrain from engaging in any transaction with doorstep sellers who employ aggressive or intimidating tactics. It's important to remember that you have the right to say No and protect yourself from potential scams.
  • Even if the person seems friendly or claims to be a representative of a legitimate company, never let them inside your home. This is especially important if you are alone or vulnerable.
  • Homeowners should be sceptical of unsolicited offers, research before making decisions, and seek recommendations from friends and relatives, before hiring tradespeople.
  • Never pay upfront in cash or accompany a tradesperson to withdraw money from the bank or an ATM.
  • If you encounter a suspicious trader or feel threatened, and they won't leave, do not hesitate to call 999.