Rogue trading ranges from poor quality work and high pressure sales to organised crime gangs targeting the elderly and vulnerable on a daily basis, often demanding large amounts of money by threats and intimidation sometimes without even doing any work.
How rogue traders operate
- Cold call at the doorstep offering services such as gutter cleaning, gardening, house maintenance, jet washing, driveway, paving etc.
- Befriend the homeowner by various means (e.g. claim to have been before or claim they are working up the street). Many victims say "He was such a nice man".
- Start with small jobs such as cleaning the gutters for £15 and then claim further work is needed (which they will not quote for), then demand £000’s, often for no or very little work.
- Make fraudulent claims e.g. claim moss on a roof causes damage and needs to be washed off, painting a roof is necessary to protect it etc.
- Return again and again to vulnerable victims demanding further payment for bogus reasons (e.g. claiming that VAT has not been paid, claim to be Trading Standards officers and offer to refund the victim with a cheque once the victim has given them more cash).
- Use intimidation to extort money and often take the homeowner to a bank or cashpoint to withdraw cash.
They are the most vulnerable in our community and the impact on them is immense. Many victims are targeted over a period of years and some rogue traders acquire a huge income from this type of work. One trader we prosecuted had taken over £1 million pounds from elderly victims over a 12 month period.
Only about 15% of victims report these incidents (through fear or because they feel ashamed). Although Trading Standards works closely with the police to stop rogue traders, many of the reports received from the public come too late for the traders to be found and/or to recover the money paid to them.
We would urge you to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service in relation to any suspected rogue trader incidents or suspicious activities.
If rogue traders are still at your property please call the police on 999.
Avoiding rogue traders
- get a security chain fixed to your door and use it when answering
- check the identity of the caller by asking to see an ID card and checking the telephone number in your own directory
- consider if you really need the work done - shop around for the best deal, where possible using a trader from the Trading Standards Buy with Confidence scheme or using a trader recommended to you (get three quotes to make sure you are being quoted a fair price)
- insist that you are given the quote in writing
- ask the caller to leave you with information to study at your leisure
- don't let them into your home (no matter how friendly they seem) and don't be tempted by 'today only' offers (this is pressure selling)
- remember that if you enter into a contract in your home for work costing £42 or more you have 14 days to cancel by writing to the trader (even if the work has started), unless you have asked the trader around specifically to carry out emergency repairs or maintenance. If you haven't been given information on your right to cancel, then you can cancel up to 54 weeks from the agreement date.