Lockdown restrictions easing may see scammers looking for new ways to take advantage. Have you had a rogue trader knock on your door lately?
We know that a lot of tradespeople’s diaries have taken a hit these last few months – the lockdown will have prevented many from accessing people’s houses, while some have had to furlough staff and postpone jobs.
This has likely meant that you’ve had to wait before one of our endorsed Which? Trusted Traders or your go-to builder becomes available.
That potential lack of availability could lead to doorstep criminals looking to take advantage, with cheap prices for ‘quick jobs’ suddenly looking appealing.
Rogue Trader Alert
A member of the public has been approached whilst in their own front garden, by a man offering to clear moss from the guttering, who then insisted more work was required.
If in imminent danger please ring 999. Report to Trading Standards on 0808 223 1133.#rdg pic.twitter.com/SWs5DcZQ7z
— ReadingCouncil (@ReadingCouncil) June 14, 2020
Our Which? Trusted Traders assessors are all ex-Trading Standards professionals with a wealth of experience dealing with rogue traders and doorstep crime, so we know all too well the devastating effects this type of fraud can have on its victims.
That’s why we’re urging people to be vigilant as lockdown eases.
Who might be vulnerable?
Some may have the perception that victims of doorstep crime are older, more vulnerable people. While there are plenty of instances of rogue traders targeting older victims, it’s not always the case.
What if you’ve never had to have building work carried out before, or maybe it’s your first home or you’re new to an area?
Lots of people will get recommendations for good builders from friends or relatives, but what can you do if you don’t have a support network like that? It might be difficult to know where to start when choosing a tradesperson.
It can be a bit of a daunting process – you may find yourself asking; how do I know the trader is reputable? How do I know I’m getting a fair price? And, what should I do if something goes wrong?
There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable trader.
Golden rules for staying safe
👷♂️ No cold callers: don’t engage with people who cold call and knock on your door offering their services. You should never feel pressured to make a decision in your own home.
👷♀️ Be patient and get quotes: you should always try to get at least three quotes for the work, but generally the more the better. This way you can get a view of what a fair price is, and take your time to decide.
👷♂️ Do your research: take the time to read a trader’s customer reviews (good and bad!) from independent sources – all the reviews left on our traders are moderated to ensure they’ve been left by genuine customers.
👷♀️ Never pay upfront: you should always pay a trader in stages and hold back full payment until the job is completed satisfactorily.
What to do if the job goes wrong
It’s important to know that you’re protected in the event things don’t go to plan. After all, there could be a lot of money at stake.
We’d recommend that you check to see whether a trader is part of a Dispute Resolution scheme, such as the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman.
All the traders on our scheme have access to the Ombudsman should it be needed, which we believe helps raise standards.
Have you ever been cold called on the doorstep? Ever been tempted to go along with an offer made out of the blue?
Let us know in the comments if you’ve had any experiences.