Digital TV Switchover Fraudsters Con Locals

As Helping Hand campaign for older and disabled residents is launched

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A new campaign has launched urging family and friends of older and potentially vulnerable people to make sure they are aware of the help on offer ahead of April’s digital TV switchover, and to beware of fraudsters operating in the area.

The switchover is being billed as the biggest change in television since the introduction of colour. Analogue television will be switched off across the London TV region on April 4th and replaced with a new, stronger digital TV signal - leaving those households that have not switched to digital without any TV channels.

The Switchover Help Scheme has launched a Helping Hand campaign calling on everyone to try to make sure every older and disabled person in the borough knows about the help they can get with the changeover process. People aged 75 and over - and eligible disabled - are entitled to equipment, installation and free aftercare to convert one of their TV sets to digital. It costs £40, or is free to eligible people who are also on income related benefits.

All eligible people have been contacted by post, but campaign organisers are concerned not everyone may be confident enough to take up the help.

The campaign launch follows cases in Wandsworth of rogue doorstep callers posing as switchover contractors in order to gain access to homes and swindle cash from residents.

In recent weeks two fraudsters conned a resident in Festing Road , Putney, out of £40 by pretending to be digital TV contractors and gaining access to their home. On January 24th, two men who matched suspect descriptions from the previous incident were spotted again in Festing Road .

Although they were not seen to enter any properties on that occasion, Wandsworth Council and police are warning residents to be on the lookout.

Both men are described as white, approximately 40-50 years old, and were wearing royal blue sweatshirts with a logo on.

Wandsworth's community safety spokesman, Councillor Jonathan Cook, said: "The council wants to make it clear to residents that no digital switchover contractor will call on homes unexpectedly without an appointment.

"I hope that family, friends and neighbours of potentially vulnerable residents will keep an eye out for these despicable con artists, who will stop at nothing to line their own pockets.

"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 doorstep caller 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."

The Digital UK information pack that has been sent out will say whether a household is entitled to a free changeover and explain how an appointment can be arranged.

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.

For more information about the Helping Hand campaign, call 0800 40 85 900 or visit Textphone users can call 0800 40 85 936. 

Alternatively, 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

For general information about the digital changeover call the UK Digital London region helpline on 0800 408 59 18 or visit

February 3rd, 2012