Covid-related fraud and scams prevention advice has been prioritised by both Police Scotland and Trading Standards Scotland who have responded to the emerging crime profile and Covid-19 related work over the past year.
As enforcement authorities, they have now assessed that with the easing of restrictions and permission being given for trade work to recommence, doorstep crime will once again start to increase.
Doorstep crime continues to have a disproportional impact on the elderly and vulnerable and the prevention campaign seeks to provide appropriate support and advice to those at risk from such criminality.
The campaign this year will continue to take a partnership approach with a view to increasing the reach of advice and reduction in doorstep crime.
Partnership working is essential and at a national level it is a joint partnership with Police Scotland and Trading Standards Scotland, however it is being further supported by the Scottish Government, SCOTSS, Advice Direct Scotland and Neighbourhood Watch Scotland.
Bogus workers – while continuing to offer a range of services including roofing and power washing - are likely to place an emphasis on gardening and property maintenance work given the demand for such services at this time.
Victims in previous years have been predominantly over the age of 65 and most likely to be female, however, that victim profile and tactics are likely to change this year given the increased demand for trade services.
It is anticipated that the financial cost to victims will remain high and there may be an increase in the financial cost to victims as doorstep criminals seek to recoup earnings lost during the lockdown period.
Incidents are most commonly recorded throughout the working week and during traditional working hours. Many unscrupulous traders are now able to advertise and offer their services online through company websites and social media which - combined with liveried vehicles and workwear with a company logo - can give the impression of legitimacy.
Gary Glasgow of Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards, said: “There are a number of key objectives in this year’s campaign – most notably the need to reduce the number of victims related to doorstep crime activities and raise awareness of the issues surrounding doorstep crime and the organisations which are able to help.
“By interacting with those vulnerable groups most affected by doorstep crime, and revisiting previous victims either virtually or over the phone, we can ensure appropriate crime prevention advice is given.
“Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards will be operating a rapid response team of officers which will aim to attend incidents where it is believed rogue traders are targeting residents and are still at the property, in the area or likely to return. This enables them to disrupt the activities of the criminals and deter criminals by sending out a clear message that they are ready to act to protect residents.”
The campaign is encouraging residents to report doorstep crime to Police Scotland and the relevant partner agencies.
Only by doing that will it enable them to thoroughly investigate all instances of doorstep crime and consider using enforcement activities in partnership with other agencies to target offenders.
For more advice visit: www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/scams/#doorstepsell