Residents who have suffered damage caused by last week’s Storm Henk are being warned by Leicestershire Trading Standards to be on their guard against rogue traders.
Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged as Storm Henk tore through the county last week, with Loughborough and the surrounding area particularly affected by widespread flooding.
Leicestershire County Council’s Trading Standards team is now urging people to be on the alert for doorstep traders and cold callers offering building repairs, garden work and clean-up services, which may be sub-standard and over-priced.
Rogue traders target people when they are at their most vulnerable and use events like Storm Henk to cash in and make money. They know that people need to make urgent repairs to their property or clear up fallen trees, so may knock on the door and suggest repairs that they claim they can carry out quickly.
These unscrupulous traders pose as legitimate tradespeople, often targeting the elderly and vulnerable people within our communities. These offenders are extremely believable and can come across as very charming and trustworthy, but they can also use aggressive behaviour and scare tactics. They advise people that work needs to be done when it often doesn’t – this work can be sub-standard and consumers can find themselves paying more than they originally agreed.
Person:Councillor Deborah Taylor, cabinet member for regulatory services
We would ask people to be on their guard against this type of scam, and to look out for our friends, families and neighbours to ensure they don’t fall victim. The message is simple - if you’re not sure, don’t open the door.
Leicestershire Trading Standards has issued a checklist to help people steer clear of rogue traders and doorstep scams:
- Do not agree to any work on the doorstep
- Go online to search for reviews and recommendations
- Is the trader listed as a Limited Company? – if so, it should be listed on Companies House. Does the company exist? If not, the trader is giving false information about their company details
- Obtain a minimum of three quotes by different tradespeople
- Obtain full details of each business that provides a quote, visit any website and/or social media page they hold, check their address on the Royal Mail website
- Ensure that the contract of works required, the quoted and agreed final price are all received in writing.
- Never pay in cash - use a secure method such as bank transfer or credit card
- Do not feel pressured to pay prior to any work being conducted. A reputable builder will not request money up front for work that has not been carried out. If the trader is legitimate, they won’t mind waiting for you to come back to them once you have made an informed decision. Be wary of those that say they can start straight away, whatever reason they give you
- For contracts over the value of £42, traders must give you a notice that you have 14 days to change your mind and cancel the contract. An exception is if work needs to be carried out in an emergency or at your express request, but you must waive these rights in writing.
- Has the trader offered to take you to the bank to withdraw money? If so, this is considered an ‘aggressive practice’, so consider this a warning sign
- Speak to friends or family before parting with any money if you are unsure
- If you feel in immediate danger, call the police on 999 or for a non-urgent matter, call 101