North West Trading Standards Services joined forces on Wednesday 9 October to coordinate a regional day of action targeting rogue traders and forceful doorstep sellers, alongside the Police, HMRC and the DVSA in this crime prevention initiative.
Rogue trading is a UK-wide problem, vulnerable residents can be targeted and charged large sums of money for substandard property repairs which are unnecessary and overpriced. In some cases money is taken up front for services that are never provided. The most common areas of work carried out by rogue traders are roofing and driveway repair or replacement, and gardening services. Evidence suggests distraction burglary may also be committed if the opportunity arises. Rogue traders often travel vast distances to commit offences. Trading Standards services work and liaise with the Police throughout the year to tackle rogue trader issues – this joint day of action between all the North West authorities sends an important message that this type of crime is not acceptable in the region.
Rogue Trading and mass marketing scams, which often target vulnerable or disadvantaged consumers, cause an estimated £5 billion worth of detriment to UK consumers each year.
Activities on the day included road side checks of vehicles, Police checking for insurance, tax and current MOT, and the DVSA checking for roadworthiness, issuing prohibition notices where necessary. Trading Standards advised traders regarding consumer protection legislation and checked any paperwork and advertising material was compliant with legislation.
In the last year Trading Standards Services across the North West have received nearly 5,000 complaints about rogue traders.
Julie Waddington from Trading Standards North West said: “Bogus doorstep trader crimes and scams continue to occur and the victims can be swindled out of their life savings for unnecessary and overpriced work which has a detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.
“We will continue to carry out operations like this and remind the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or concerns about an individual offering to carry out work to the relevant agency.”
Since October 2018, Cumbria Trading Standards service has received 189 complaints about doorstep crime, many of which have resulted in successful prosecutions.
Cllr Celia Tibble, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: “We’re always working to disrupt the activities of bogus traders, however the best way to avoid a problem is simply never to do business with any cold callers.
“If a company uses pressure tactics to try to get you to buy goods or agree to have work done immediately, alarm bells should start ringing. Typically we find that a small job such as cleaning gutters and re-pointing ridge tiles can soon escalate to suggesting a compete re-roof is required.
“Reputable firms will not demand cash up front, and will be happy to come back another day to give you time to think about it and get other quotes.”
It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door but Cumbria Trading Standards advice is to not do business with doorstep sellers. Please use reputable local companies or individuals – ask family and friends for recommendations and for larger jobs always obtain at least three quotes.
People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.