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Warning on rogue traders and bogus callers

Published 8th May 2018

Sandwell Council’s trading standards team is warning residents to be on their guard against rogue traders and bogus callers.

As the weather improves and homeowners look to give their homes a spring clean and do repairs, rogue traders can seize the opportunity to offer to carry out gardening work, mend or clean roofs and jet wash or resurface driveways.

Bogus callers – also called distraction burglars or doorstep thieves – often pretend to be from the council, utility companies or other organisations to trick their way into people’s homes to steal money or property.

Common rogue trader scams include:

  • Offering to replace a tile or slate on the roof but saying water is getting into the roof and needs replacing;
  • Giving a cheap price to clear out the garden but then charging much more for ‘extra’ work carried out;
  • Saying they are working in the area hand have a lot of road/drive surfacing materials left over which will go off if they aren’t used; and
  • Saying they will replace rotten wooden soffits, fascia boards and guttering but using cheap plastic to cover the problem instead.

Advice from Sandwell’s trading standards team is to:

  • Avoid agreeing to have work carried out on the spur of the moment when people knock your door.
  • Before starting on a project be clear about what it is you want to do and have a good idea of what you want to pay.
  • Get a number of quotations from traders.
  • Make sure that the quotation is detailed setting out the nature of the job, the price, the components and the time taken to complete the work.
  • Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Do you have their name, address and contact details?
  • Don’t hand over any money in advance.
  • Agree staged payments if possible.

Consumers can search the Tradewell in Sandwell register or have a search carried out for them by ringing Citizens Advice consumer services on 0121 569 6628.

To combat bogus callers, follow this advice:

  • Stop and think – if you're not expecting a caller and they don't have an appointment, then don't let them into your home.
  • Chain – use the door chain before opening the front door.
  • Check – ask to see identification and double-check this by calling the organisation/company they are representing before letting anyone into your home. If in any doubt call 999 immediately.

Councillor Elaine Costigan, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “I would urge everyone to be vigilant and to keep an eye on older or vulnerable people who these criminals may prey upon.”

Bob Charnley, Sandwell trading standards manager, said: "Be very wary of anyone turning up on your doorstep offering to carry out work. Ask yourself if you would trust important and potentially expensive work to someone you have never heard of, and may never see again.

"Responsible traders will know the rules and will supply the correct paperwork before starting any work. This includes when entering into a contract at home the right to cancel the contract within 14 days."

If you notice any suspicious cold calling activity please report it to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

Alternatively, contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.