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Posted on: 9th May 2024

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How to spot a rogue trader on your doorstep – or that of a vulnerable neighbour

While many fraudsters have taken their scams to a more sophisticated level online – the sad fact remains that doorstep rogue traders are still making misery for many people.

Spring is here and many of us are looking to spruce the exterior of our property; including the garden, driveway, fascia and cladding.

But there is a fair chance that before you have the opportunity to research and contact a tried and tested, reliable tradesperson – an unscrupulous cowboy builder or rogue trader will be knocking at your door, or that of a vulnerable, elderly neighbour.

Whatever the job – big or small – don’t be tempted give the work to someone who cold calls you at your home, claiming to be ‘carrying out similar work in the area’.

Sadly, the 70-79 age group is one of the most commonly targeted groups. And according to Age UK, each year, around 1 in 12 (940,000) older people fall victim to a scam.

That figure is likely much larger, as many don’t realise they have been defrauded or don’t report it.

However, we would urge consumers – whatever their age – to be aware of the more common red flags and to report anything they believe may be suspicious:

  • A van or vehicle that has been parked outside the house for some time or which frequently comes and goes.
  • Your neighbour being kept talking on the doorstep for what seems an unusual length of time.
  • Work being carried out with no obvious signs of health and safety – e.g., workers on the roof with no protective clothing or scaffolding.
  • Work that looks shoddy, untidy or unfinished, even to the untrained eye.
  • Multiple ‘workmen’ on site, with frequent engagement with the homeowner with no apparent work being done.

Doorstep rogue traders have a knack of catching people off guard. Remember:

  • Don’t be talked into something on the spur of the moment.
  • Don’t take their word for it when they tell you urgent work or repairs need doing.
  • Do ask them to qualify who they are and to leave you a contact number.
  • Never hand over any cash as a deposit for work which they say they will return to carry out.
  • Feel free to ask to see their credentials and / or examples of their work.
  • Always ask them politely to leave if you feel uncomfortable with their approach.
  • If you want to get rid of them but don’t feel confident in asking them to leave, take a leaflet and report it to the trading standards or 101 if you suspect something isn’t quite right.

So, if you are in the market for a new driveway or patio or are dreaming of a new lawn or garden for the summer – then always use a professional.

No reputable tradesperson will come knocking on your door ‘touting’ for business. Needless to say, it is absolutely mandatory that you never pay anyone cash at the door, especially when they haven't even conducted any work on your premises.

If you would like to find a reputable and recommended tradesperson in your area visit and together we can root out the rogue traders.


More about Safe Local Trades

Safe Local Trades 0800 014 1832 Allia Future Business Centre, Peterborough United Football Club, Peterborough, Cambs, PE2 8AN