Warning as doorstep home improvements scams rise

In the last 12 months, 217 Leicestershire residents were conned out of almost £3m

Doorstep scam alert graphic

A warning has been issued by Leicestershire Trading Standards after more than 200 reports of doorstep scams – costing county victims nearly £3m.

Rip-off traders are costing people an average of £13,319, with 217 Leicestershire residents conned out of £2.9m in the last 12 months.

Doorstep offers for roofing, chimney work or driveway repairs are the most commonly-reported scams.

Rogue traders will knock on doors unannounced and claim they have noticed damage, before offering to have a look for free as they have just finished a job nearby and have all their equipment with them.

Leicestershire County Council’s Trading Standards team is advising residents to decline their services and not feel pressured into taking immediate action.

Despite any incentives or discounts the trader may offer, the work may be unnecessary and quoted low initially, only then to raise the price drastically once work has started.

Reports received highlight a pattern of traders going into lofts and purporting to have taken a photo showing gaps in tiles to scare consumers into believing they need roofs replacing, when in fact the photo was not of their roof.

In another report, a worker went onto the roof and was seen by neighbours to sit smoking a cigarette and then charging the homeowner a large sum of money for the privilege, without having carried out any work.

Trading Standards advice is:

  • If a trader starts to get ‘pushy’ or residents feel pressurised, shut the door and telephone the police on 101 or 999 if an emergency
  • Look out for neighbours – if they appear to be uncomfortable with traders, telephone the police to get them checked out
  • Obtain at least three independent quotes and never agree to anything on the doorstep
  • Always check out reviews, and carry out research on the trader before agreeing for works to be carried out
  • Pay by card or cheque rather than cash
  • Traders should always offer a 14-day cooling-off period

Our Trading Standards team will act on complaints where there appears to be a pattern of unfair trading and fraud. Officers will undertake investigations where there is substantial loss to consumers. 

Let this be a warning to all cold callers offering home improvements who target vulnerable consumers, that Leicestershire Trading Standards will investigate such complaints as we have a duty to protect the public and legitimate businesses who are abiding by the law.

Councillor Deborah Taylor, cabinet member for regulatory services

Leicestershire Trading Standards provides information, support and intervention to residents to help them keep safe from fraud, scams and doorstep crime.

They have produced an advice card on how to avoid falling victim to cold calling and doorstep scams with a series of dos and don’ts. The advice cards are available free of change and can be obtained by emailing tradingstandards@leics.gov.uk.

To report a rogue trader or for free advice and guidance on this and other areas of Trading Standards work, visit our Trading Standards website.

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