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Police in the Highlands warn public about bogus callers

29th March 2017

Police in the Highlands are urging the public to be vigilant following a number of cold callers, bogus workmen and scam incidents being reported.

Officers have also been informed of a number of telephone scams where cold callers advise victims they have an outstanding debt and need to purchase iTunes vouchers to pay the debt. On 22 March 2017, a report was received that a 71-year-old man in Inverness had received such a phone call and was conned out of £950.

Also on 22 March 2017 a 26-year-old man in Inverness was conned out of £650 after receiving a similar cold call.

On Thursday 23 March 2017, an elderly man in Invergordon was conned out of £800.

In Easter Ross, officers were informed of an incident on 22 March 2017 where cold callers attended at a residential address offering to carry out maintenance work. The price of the work was then inflated and was of a poor standard.

Rogue-traders usually cold-call, claiming to be workers offering to sell services, make repairs or carry out work on your house, garden or driveway. In reality they charge inflated prices for sub-standard or unnecessary work.

We do not recommend dealing with cold-callers for property maintenance and home repairs.

Police Scotland also works in partnership with Highland Council Trading Standards to raise awareness and take action against bogus workers.

How can you spot a Rogue-Trader?

They may tell you work is urgent and needs to be carried out immediately.

They will normally ask for payment there and then and may offer to come to the bank with you if you don't have cash at hand.

A few simple steps you can take to protect yourself against bogus workers include keeping doors locked, use a door chain if answering the door to unexpected callers, only let callers in if they have an appointment and you have confirmed they are genuine and always ask for identification. You may also wish to phone the company they are representing to verify their identity. Some companies offer a password system. Ask your utility providers if this can be used and if you have a password with a company make sure the caller uses it.

Inverness Area Commander Chief Inspector Ian Graham said: "As we approach the spring and summer, we are urging the public to be vigilant to cold callers offering services and goods for sale. Do not feel pressured into making on the spot decisions about goods and services offered for sale. Take your time to check credentials to satisfy yourself that they are a legitimate business with a good reputation.

"Additionally, we're asking communities to look out for vulnerable members of society who could be contacted by unscrupulous individuals over the phone. Organisations such as HMRC would never ask for payments in the form of iTunes vouchers and we're asking friends and family of vulnerable people to help us spread this message."

Mark McGinty, Trading Standards Team leader said: "We all know that at this time of year many of us are thinking about our gardens and what impact the winter has had on our homes. This is when doorstep criminals pounce. My advice would be to ‘say NO’ to someone calling at your door to offer garden or home maintenance works, and to inform us of any flyers that appear through your letterbox, don’t engage for any works to be carried out. Generally, legitimate business does not operate in this way, and bogus workmen could make the damage a lot worse, and effect any insurance you may have on the property. I would urge anyone who suspects a bogus workman to be in the area to contact either Trading Standards or Police Scotland."

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