During Operation Rogue Trader week (11-15 April), we attended local events alongside police and Trading Standards officers to help make the public aware of the risk of property fraud and how best to protect themselves.
I’m based in our Fylde office and volunteered to take part in some local activities during the week. First stop was St Christopher’s Church Hall in Lea, Lancashire, where around 40 local residents were meeting for afternoon tea. I met Julie, the local Police Community Support Officer, who was there to listen to any issues that residents had and also to discuss crime prevention. I went armed with bundles of leaflets to promote Land Registry’s property advice, including our Property Alert service.
Once people were aware that I wasn’t selling insurance and that Property Alert was a free service I had a captive audience. The residents were all really friendly and welcoming, but were surprised and shocked at the thought of property fraud, which is something that hadn’t occurred to them. They were really grateful that someone had come to explain the consequences to them and were pleased to know that there are measures they can take to try to minimise the risk of property fraud.
Further events were arranged in Lancaster on the Wednesday, where I met up with Police Community Support Officer Meeks. It was a quiet start at the first church event as it was still early in the day, but we managed to chat to the first arrivals including a lady who was so impressed by the service she took lots of leaflets to pass on to her many neighbours in the flats where she lived.
We moved on to other locations within Lancaster and then went to the Rainbow Centre in Morecambe. This is a charitable organisation for people over the age of 55, that holds different activities for local residents throughout the week. Wednesday was sequence dancing, and the music was already playing when we arrived. Again, the members were all very enthusiastic about the Property Alert service. Some explained they didn’t have access to a computer to be able to sign up for Property Alert, but were going to ask a family member or friend to sign up on their behalf. They were extremely grateful for all of the leaflets that they were able to take away and many took them for the residents of the street where they lived and other family members. The organisers of the centre’s activities were also impressed with the service and suggested that they add it to their next agenda to have a discussion and include an article in their newsletter.
I was glad that I’d had the opportunity to meet members of the public, raise the profile of our Property Alert service and highlight the importance of protecting their property from the risk of fraud.