OLDER people in South Ayrshire are being warned to be on their guard against bogus callers and rogue traders set on a springtime spree of duping homeowners out of money.
Vulnerable householders, in particular those over 60, are increasingly becoming the favoured targets of criminals who use the change of the seasons into spring to execute doorstep scams.
The criminals turn up to offer homeowners the attractive prospect of having discounted repairs and improvement work carried out on their properties to spruce them up as the weather starts to improve.
But the work is either shoddy or grossly overpriced – and in some cases the callers gain entry to the properties to steal cash and valuables.
The warning comes from the Scottish Business Crime Centre (SBCC) as part of a new campaign it is fronting to raise awareness of various issues that can place older people at risk of financial harm.
As victims are often embarrassed to report the crimes authoritative statistics are hard to establish, but a recent study by Citizens Advice Scotland found that their Consumer Helpline dealt with 421 cases of people reporting a cold caller looking to carry out work on their homes between April and November 2012.
Nearly 400 of these cases involved home maintenance/improvement, double glazing, and insulation, with 40% of them involving complaints of substandard services totalling around £700,000 in charges to householders.
Gary Ritchie, Assistant Director of SBCC, said: “We know that adults at risk are often targeted by criminals who see them as an easy option and use a variety of methods to obtain large sums of cash.
“While we have long been plagued by bogus callers trying to get entry into houses, many criminals are now using the change of seasons from winter to spring as a ploy for their scams.
“Older people in particular are easily influenced by suggestions that their property has been damaged by winter weather.”