ELDERLY residents in Epping Forest are being urged to watch out for burglar alarm salesmen making false claims to secure orders through a new poster campaign.

Essex Police has been contacted by people who have found they were misled into accepting offers of a free alarm system.

The companies are believed to cold call residents informing them they can have a free alarm system under a scheme run by the Home Office, police or council.

But once the system has been signed for residents often find they must pay thousands of pounds worth of monitoring or maintenance costs.

The police are aiming to put up posters on notice boards in doctor's surgeries and town centres across the district to warn residents of the scam.

Tony Ellis, Essex Police’s crime reduction officer for the Epping Forest district, said: "These firms tend to move around the country deliberately targeting elderly and vulnerable residents.

"They make outrageous claims in order to sell their products which, of course, when challenged, they deny. They are trying anything that will frighten the resident into agreeing to a survey. They get residents to sign up to contracts which, in some cases, cost up to £3,000 to £4,000.

"Anyone seeking advice on buying a burglar alarm should contact their local crime reduction officer by calling 101."