Rogue Traders are people pretending to be builders or “qualified” trades men or women needing to do 'urgent' repairs or sales people offering bargain products.
Things to be aware of:
They often pressurise householders to make quick decisions to have work done, pay in advance for materials or do poor work at highly inflated prices
They will often cold call on vulnerable households and deliberately overcharge for unsatisfactory goods and services. This can include charging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately in order to obtain money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating householders
Victims of this practice are often vulnerable or elderly and in the most serious cases, offenders will return to the same victim again and again until their savings are exhausted
Police work jointly with local authority trading standards officers and other agencies to target offenders who prey on vulnerable members of the community in this way.
The following advice will help tackling doorstep rogue traders:
Close and lock your back door before answering the front door
Use a spy hole, chain or window to have a look at the caller before answering the door. If you do not recognise them speak through the closed and locked door
Never buy goods and services from people calling unexpectedly or unannounced at your door
If the caller is selling something or offering work on your house or garden tell them that you are not interested and ask them to leave
If they do not leave tell them you will call the police
Always ask for proof of identity. Take it from the person (through the letterbox) and read it carefully
Phone the company or organisation the caller claims to be from (use the number in the phone book) to confirm their identity
If you have any doubt – keep them out.
Remember it's your home. Don't be afraid to say ‘No’ and report anything suspicious to police.
If you do need to employ a tradesman, please remember these useful tips:
Take advice from family, friends or reputable traders to check if the work really needs doing
Avoid any cold callers that may turn up or ring unexpectedly or unannounced offering to carry out repairs
Only use reputable workmen recommended by family and friends, or those who have worked satisfactorily for you before. Consider contacting your local Trading Standards who may run a registered traders scheme for advice on choosing a tradesperson. Advice and information is also available on the Trading Standards website.
If you do decide the work needs doing, always obtain at least 3 quotes and make sure the quote you accept is in writing
Ask traders to provide you with written contact details and ask about insurance backed guarantees
Ask for details of previous satisfied customers and contact them. Go and see the work for yourself if you can
Consumer law allows you a seven day cooling off period so you can change your mind about any service offered by someone who arrives uninvited or by appointment
Keep back part of the cost until the repair job has been satisfactorily completed. This will provide an incentive for the trader to complete the job or put right any problems
Look Out For Your Neighbours
Friends, neighbours and people who have regular contact with older and vulnerable people can help them to make their lives more secure.
Research shows that fewer distraction burglaries are committed in areas where there is a supportive community.
You can help by:
Keeping an eye on people calling in the area or acting suspiciously
Noting the registration numbers of vehicles parked in your area for a period of time
Calling on vulnerable people regularly. If it is not too much trouble, help them keep their front garden tidy and find reliable tradespeople for any maintenance work that really does need to be undertake
Inform the police to provide information about suspicious people, activity or vehicles, however insignificant it may seem.