We use the word ‘scam’ to indicate a dishonest or fraudulent scheme designed to cheat someone. But fortunately a lot of scams and bad purchases can be avoided if you know what to look for.
A common feature of scams is pressure to commit you to a sale very quickly. So don’t let yourself be rushed. You may be told that an offer is only available for a limited time period, or that you will get a discount if you sign now. A genuine offer will allow you to go away, discuss it with friends and relatives, and then come back when you are sure it’s what you want.
Having a website doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is reliable. Look for one recommended by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) or the local Authority Trader Scheme Network such as “Derbyshire Trusted Traders”. If the offer seems too good to be true then it probably is.
Check out the following points about the seller if you are at all concerned:
- Do they have a contact number and does it work? Be wary if the number is a mobile number (e.g. a number beginning with 07-)
- Do you have a postal address for the company – be cautious if there is only a P.O.Box number.
- Is the company based overseas – your consumer rights may not apply.
- Is the company properly regulated or a member of a trade association.
Business cards, stationery and websites can be easily made up. Do not judge on appearance alone.
In your own home, do not invite in or buy from any callers you have not bought from before (and know to be reliable). You could put up a notice to say that you do not buy from the doorstep.
Remember that if you do sign a contract in your own home, you usually have a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period to change your mind, but this only helps if you can trace the person.
But most of all if you don’t feel comfortable with the purchase you are making, then allow yourself to make the decision in your own time, rather than be forced into buying something you may regret.
Gill, Care100 (Director)