Rogue traders tend to prey on more vulnerable people and target residents with fear-driven tactics to pressurise them into paying for work that they don’t necessarily need.
One series of incidents in Wiltshire involved traders going door-to-door and informing residents that they are employed by a company to survey roofs. The traders went on to inform home owners that their roofs were in need of extensive repair work.
As winter approaches, many home owners are likely to fall victim to this approach as fear and lack of knowledge force them to engage the "surveyor" on their doorstep to repair the alleged damage; in this instance, one elderly lady paid £850 cash in advance only for the traders to leave, never to be seen again. Reported incidents are thought to be the tip of the iceberg; many victims of scams such as this one feel too ashamed and embarrassed to report it.
Avoiding rogue traders is relatively easy if you remain vigilant and refuse to take the first quote given to you. You can find more advice about avoiding rogue traders here. In the meantime, here are some Do's and Don’ts when it comes to finding a trader:
- DON’T accept the first quote you are given. Whether you are approached on the doorstep or you get in touch with a trader, it is always a good idea to get at least two quotes, in writing, so you know whether the work quoted is realistic and reasonable.
- DO ask for references. A trustworthy trader will be happy to give you details of former customers who are happy to share their experience with you.
- DO look for a trader on an approved website. Trader comparison websites like Trust A Trader help you to find vetted, professional and reviewed traders near you, so you know you can trust them.
- DO always ask for ID in the form of a professional business card or professional membership ID.
- DON’T feel pressurised into engaging a trader just because he is standing on your doorstep. If you feel under pressure, particularly if you feel threatened, shut the door and phone for help.
- DO be vigilant. If you see anything suspicious, call 101 and report it; if you think a crime might be taking place, call 999.
- DON’T let a trader know if you are home alone; even if you are, tell them that your spouse/child/friend is expected any minute now and you want to talk to them before making any decisions.
- DON’T be ashamed. Anybody can become a victim of a rogue trader and it is nothing to be afraid of. If you have been subjected to any kind of scam, contact your local police on 101.
Don't let yourself or someone you know become a victim of rogue traders. Be wise, be vigilant and try to protect the most vulnerable people in your area.