Community safety chiefs in Hartlepool are urging residents not to buy goods and services from doorstep traders.
It follows a series of recent complaints to Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards officers when residents reported being ripped off by rogue traders selling beds and mattresses.
Ian Harrison, the council’s trading standards and licensing manager, said that people need to be on their guard as there will always be unscrupulous traders out there who are looking to make a quick buck.
He said: “We have had recent reports of traders knocking on people’s doors offering allegedly high-quality orthopaedic mattresses for up to £400. However, they turned out to be cheap, inferior products that are worth only a fraction of that price.
“Residents need to be really careful because in some cases the products may even be counterfeit and not meet the required minimum safety standard.
“Furniture sold in the UK must be put through rigorous safety testing and meet a British Standard.
“Furniture sold by these people may not have been tested and could potentially be made from unsafe or, in some cases, flammable material. Doorstep traders often use selling techniques which pressure people into buying unwanted items which they often don’t need.
“They can target anyone but often prey on the more vulnerable members of society such as the elderly who are less likely to say no.”
To help protect residents, Trading Standards have joined forces with the Community Safety Team and Cleveland Police to produce a window sticker aimed at deterring cold callers.
The stickers are available free of charge from Hartlepool Civic Centre and from any of the town’s libraries.
Anyone can report concerns about rogue traders by calling Trading Standards on (01429) 523362 and residents in need of free crime prevention advice, including the provision security devices, can contact Lorna Hilton in the Council’s Community Safety Team on (01429) 523100.