HOUSE-HOLDERS are being warned about 'Nottingham Knockers' working in the area.

Trading Standards has recently become aware that a group of young door-to-door salesmen which has been targeting households across the borough.

Named after a scam originating in Nottingham, they travel across the UK targeting a town at a time.

They knock at doors and claim to be ex-convicts attempting to mend their ways, before trying to sell the householder everyday household products at very high prices.

Southend Crimes & Disorder Reduction Partnership is advising people not to buy from them.

David Baxter, of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Trading Standards team, said: “Many people who sell things on the doorstep, on the phone and even in your home are legitimate traders, but unfortunately some aren't. Rogue traders may use illegal pressure selling tactics to make people buy and they can ignore their legal rights.

“Remember it’s your doorstep and your decision. If you feel pressured for any reason, ask the person to leave.”

Mick Armstrong, Essex Police Crime Reduction Officer for Southend, added: "These Nottingham Knockers work in groups across the country but they are not necessarily involved in any officially recognised offender rehabilitation programmes.

“There are several national charities that do excellent work with offenders and ex- offenders and you can be confident your donations will be properly used.”

Trading Standards has issued the following ten top tips to help you stay safe when approached by unsolicited callers:

1. Don’t sign on the spot Don't feel pressured to agree on the spot - if you are interested in what they are selling, you can ask them to come back at another time that is more convenient for you, maybe when you have someone else with you or you've shopped around.

2. Check the trader's identity Always ask for an identity card and look up the organisation to check the salesperson's identity is genuine. Don't use the number on their card. Check if the trader is a member of a reputable trade body, like the Direct Selling Association, whose members should ensure their salespeople sell responsibly.

3. Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home Don't get taken in by sales banter or high pressure selling techniques. Don't be hurried into a decision even if there is a discount. The discount might be on a price that is too high in the first place.

4. Always shop around for the best price Check with other companies offering the same product first. Make sure the price and product is right for you.

5. Read the small print Always read documents carefully before you sign them and make sure you fully understand your rights. It's best to ask salespeople to call back so you can do this in your own time - don't be rushed into signing before you feel ready.

6. Double check the facts Make sure you fully understand the total costs of the transaction - including estimates, delivery and installation and the arrangements for after-sales servicing, such as the guarantees or warranties. Only agree to make a purchase once you’re entirely satisfied that the transaction is acceptable.

7. Talk to someone you trust for a second opinion Take the time to talk to someone you trust - for example your family, a friend or carer - before you sign anything.

8. Don’t hand over a cash deposit Avoid handing over money before work is started. A reliable trader will never ask you to do this (even if they need materials). Never agree to go with a trader to the bank to take money out.

9. Think very carefully before you agree to a trader starting any work straight away If you agree to have any work done or goods delivered within the seven day cooling-off period, you may have to pay if you later change your mind and cancel the contract.

10. Trust your instincts If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!