RESIDENTS in York have been urged not to sign up to legal services from door-to-door salespeople, after one resident lost more than £2,000.

Peter Gibson works for Coles Solicitors and was involved in the investigation into York Asset Protection last year, said he had been contacted by another York resident in the last few weeks who had signed up to a will-writing service after being approached at his home and handed over a cheque for £2,195.

The cheque was cashed within two days and could not be cancelled, and the customer has taken the case to trading standards at City of York Council, but Mr Gibson said it was important to remember that a professional website or convincing documents presented at the doorstep did not mean the company was reliable.

Mr Gibson said: "Once again the perceived affluent people of York are being targeted by callous, unqualified, unregulated people who they are inviting into their homes and handing over substantial amounts of cash to provide them with at best second rate services and at worst, no services at all.

"It's really important to remember that solicitors cannot and do not and are prohibited from cold calling so a genuine law firm will never, ever cold call you or they may call if you have previously been a client, but never out of the blue. A simple rule is never respond to a cold caller for provision of legal services."

Last year, The Press reported Lynda Madden of Stamford Bridge, and her terminally-ill husband, Noel, who paid York Asset Protection £6,500 for two funeral plans. Following Noel's death, she feared she would have to pay the bill for the funeral service because she was unable to contact the firm.

She was promised reimbursement for the funeral costs and had will documents returned by the firm, but Matt Boxall, City of York Council’s Trading Standards Manager, said the investigation into York Asset Protection was ongoing.

He said: “Anyone with a complaint about mis-selling can contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice helpline on 0345 040506.”

Mr Gibson said residents should remember the following five points when considering taking up legal services, and there was no reason they would be unable to ask for advice from other companies, their friends or families, or shop around.

-Don't respond to cold calls

-Check the credentials of who you are dealing with

-Make sure you have a cooling off period

-Phone other firms for quotes and get a price check

-Verify who you are dealing with, check the website and credentials, and make sure they have a landline number and a proper address, not a PO Box.