Council warns residents to watch out for conmen
Lookout for conmen who are using this year’s digital TV switchover as a ruse to steal from and swindle cash from older and vulnerable people.
In recent incidents in other boroughs, fraudsters have conned their way into older peoples’ homes by posing as switchover contractors who are able to help convert their TVs to digital.
On some occasions the crooks have subsequently raided the property for valuables while other reports involved conmen pretending to carry out work on televisions before demanding a cash fee of up to £40.
The council’s community safety spokesman, Councillor Jonathan Cook, called on older, potentially vulnerable residents – along with their relatives, friends and neighbours – to be wary of the threat posed by bogus doorstep callers ahead of the switch from analogue to digital TV on April 4.
He said: “We want to ensure that none of our residents fall prey to any criminals who use the switchover as an opportunity to fleece people out of money.
“If anyone suspects they have been ripped off, paid a deposit to a trader they’re now worried about, or suspect there’s a rogue trader working door-to-door in their area, they should call the council’s community safety team on 020 8871 6603 or Consumer Direct’s helpline on 08454 04 05 06.”
On April 4, this year, the existing analogue television signal received by homes across Wandsworth will be switched off and replaced with a new, stronger, digital TV signal.
In order to continue watching television, residents will need to convert their TVs to digital before the switchover date.
Anyone over 75 years old or registered disabled should have received an official information pack from Digital UK explaining the changeover process. The pack will say whether a household is entitled to a free changeover and explain how an appointment can be arranged.
No one will call on homes unexpectedly without an appointment. Official contractors will only make home visits once payments – where required – have been cleared by Digital UK. Contractors will never ask for money in person.
A password system can be put in place if the home owner wishes and they can request a member of their family, neighbour or friend to be present whilst a registered fitter is in the home.
Any resident wanting face-to-face help can visit Wandsworth Citizens Advice Bureaux branches in Balham High Road, Bolingbroke Grove or Roehampton Lane. Age UK also offers advice about the changeover at www.ageuk.org.uk
Many people will be receiving messages on their televisions now from Digital UK saying that the switchover is taking place – but channels will not be lost until after April 4.
For more information about the digital changeover call the UK Digital London region helpline on 0800 408 59 18 or visit www.digitaluk.co.uk
January 19, 2012